Definitions

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

  • n. Football A play in which the defensive team recovers and downs the ball behind its own goal line after the ball has been kicked or passed there by the team on offense. No points are scored, and the ball is put back in play by the recovering team on its own 20-yard line.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The result of a play (usually a kickoff or punt) in which the ball passes out the back of the end zone or a team otherwise gains possession of the ball in their own end zone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of touching the football down by a player behind his own goal line when it received its last impulse from an opponent; -- distinguished from safety touchdown.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In foot-ball, the act (of a player guarding his own goal-line) of touching the ball to the ground on, over, or behind the goal-line, the ball so touched being declared dead by the referee, provided the impetus which sent it to or across the line was given by an opponent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (American football) a play in which the opposing team has kicked the football into your end zone

Etymologies

Presumably: touchdown + back (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A touchback is when the other team punts or kicks it into your endzone and you choose to take the ball on the twenty yard line rather than attempt a return.

    Matthew Yglesias » Tagging Up

  • A touchback is when you down the ball inside your own endzone when you are a returner or defender.

    Matthew Yglesias » “Touchback”

  • A touchback is when the ball is downed in the end zone.

    Matthew Yglesias » “Touchback”

  • It's got this so-called touchback which is really just -- there's sort of a sham little way of going it, but it rewards those who are illegally here and says that America is no longer going to enforce its immigration policies with the fact that we're not going to allow people to have citizenship.

    CNN Transcript Mar 29, 2007

  • Step two, sometime within eight years, heads of households would have to go back to their home country, something called the touchback provision.

    CNN Transcript May 22, 2007

  • There's huge financial penalties, compared to the incomes of most of these folks, and then they have the so-called touchback provision, which means that they've got to go back to the country that they came from in order to apply.

    CNN Transcript Jun 15, 2007

  • They would then, at some point, have to leave the United States, what's known as a touchback program, return to their country of origin, to reapply for a visa.

    CNN Transcript May 16, 2007

  • DOBBS: You have what's called a touchback provision.

    CNN Transcript Mar 28, 2007

  • * The Colts a strong drive to open the second half and get it after the touchback, which is a good thing considering two returns had already failed to reach the 20.

    IndyStar.com Top Stories

  • It included high fines, a pointless, punitive "touchback" requirement and new restrictions on family unification, among other problematic provisions.

    PubliCola Video and Photos from Saturday’s Immigration Reform Rally « PubliCola

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