from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A usually numerical record of a competitive event.
  • noun The total number of points made by each competitor or side in a contest, either final or at a given stage.
  • noun The number of points attributed to a competitor or team.
  • noun A result, usually expressed numerically, of a test or examination.
  • noun An amount due; a debt.
  • noun A grievance that is harbored and requires satisfaction.
  • noun A ground; a reason.
  • noun A group of 20 items.
  • noun Large numbers.
  • noun The notation of a musical work.
  • noun The written form of a composition for orchestral or vocal parts.
  • noun The music written for a film or a play.
  • noun The act of securing an advantage, especially a surprising or significant gain.
  • noun The act or an instance of buying illicit drugs.
  • noun A successful robbery.
  • noun An instance of having sexual intercourse with a desired partner.
  • noun A notch or incision, especially one that is made to keep a tally.
  • intransitive verb To achieve or accomplish.
  • intransitive verb To achieve or gain in a game or contest.
  • intransitive verb To count or be worth as points.
  • intransitive verb To keep a written record of the score or events of (a game or contest).
  • intransitive verb Baseball To cause (a base runner) to cross home plate, especially by getting a hit.
  • intransitive verb To evaluate and assign a grade to.
  • intransitive verb To orchestrate (a piece of music).
  • intransitive verb To arrange for a specific instrument.
  • intransitive verb To criticize cuttingly; berate.
  • intransitive verb To succeed in acquiring.
  • intransitive verb To succeed in obtaining (an illicit drug).
  • intransitive verb To mark (a piece of paper or wood, for example) with lines or notches, especially for the purpose of keeping a record.
  • intransitive verb To cancel or eliminate by superimposing lines.
  • intransitive verb To mark the surface of (meat, for example) with usually parallel cuts.
  • intransitive verb To make a point or points in a game or contest.
  • intransitive verb To record the score or progress of a game or contest.
  • intransitive verb To achieve a purpose or advantage, especially to make a surprising gain or coup.
  • intransitive verb To succeed in having sexual relations with a desired partner.
  • intransitive verb To succeed in buying or obtaining an illicit drug.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make scores or cuts in or upon; mark with incisions, notches, or grooves; furrow; slash; specifically, to make a long shallow cut in (cardboard or very thick paper), so that the card or paper can be bent without breaking, as for book-covers or folded cards.
  • To incise; engrave.
  • To stripe; braid.
  • To mark or record by a cut or score; in general, to mark; note; record.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, crack, scratch, tally stick, tally of twenty, from Old English scoru (attested only in the sense “twenty”), from Old Norse skor, notch, tally stick, tally of twenty; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Old English scora, notch (and hence, a tally). (For twenty: The mark on a tally made by drovers for every twenty beasts passing through a tollgate.)


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word score.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Twenty pound note (Belfast)

    July 26, 2011

  • When he wasn’t conducting studies on the genetic predisposition for addictive behavior, he was plugging away on a side project that would become his manifesto: Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. He worked on that manuscript, he says, three hours a day for 15 years, rewriting it scores of times.

    January 18, 2018