1. Sports A person appointed to rule on plays, especially in baseball.
2. A person appointed to settle a dispute that mediators have been unable to resolve; an arbitrator.
v. um·pired, um·pir·ing, um·pires
To act as referee for; rule or judge.
To be or act as a referee or an arbitrator.
[Middle English (an) oumpere, (an) umpire, alteration of (a) noumpere, a mediator, from Old French nonper : non-, non- + per, equal, even, paired (from Latin pār; see pair).]
Word History: Had it not been for the linguistic process known as false splitting or juncture loss, the angry, anguished cry heard at sports events, "Kill the ump," could have been "Kill the nump." In the case of umpire we can almost see false splitting in action by studying the Middle English Dictionary entry for noumpere, the Middle English ancestor of our word. Noumpere comes from Old French nonper, made up of non, "not," and per, "equal." As an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the umpire is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them. In Middle English the earliest recorded form is noumper (about 1350); the earliest form without an n is owmpere, recorded in a document dated 1440. How the n was lost can be seen if we compare the sequence a noounpier in a text written in 1426-1427 with the sequence an Oumper from a text written probably around 1475. In an Oumper, the n has become attached to the indefinite article, giving us an instead of a and, eventually, umpire instead of numpire. The same sort of false splitting has altered the forms of other words as well. Apron, for example, used to be napron, and adder used to be nadder. The reverse process has also occurred in the history of English: words that originally began with vowels acquired an n from a preceding indefinite article. Nickname comes from an obsolete phrase an eke name, "an additional name." Newt comes from an eute. A variant of the Middle English word eute still survives as eft, "a newt."
1. (General Sporting Terms) an official who rules on the playing of a game, as in cricket or baseball
2. a person who rules on or judges disputes between contesting parties
(General Sporting Terms) to act as umpire in (a game, dispute, or controversy)
[C15: by mistaken division from a noumpere, from Old French nomper not one of a pair, from nom-, non- not + per equal, peer1]
ˈumpireship, ˈumpirage n
um•pire (ˈʌm paɪər)
n., v. -pired, -pir•ing. n.
1. a person selected to rule on the plays in a game.
2. one selected to settle disputes about rules or usages; a person agreed on by disputing parties to arbitrate their differences. v.t.
3. to act as umpire in (a game).
4. to decide or settle (a dispute) as umpire; arbitrate. v.i.
5. to act as umpire.
[1350–1400; Middle English umpere, variant of noumpere < Old French nomper, nonper arbiter, i.e., one not equal]