Meanings: “Gridiron”

August 30, 2011

It’s hard not to notice that football season is once more upon us.  Soon we will be inundated with games played on a gridiron.  “Gridiron?”  Why do we call it that?

It’s a dead metaphor.

According to, this is the definition of “gridiron”:

1.  A grated iron utensil for broiling flesh and fish over coals.

2.  (Naut.) An openwork frame on which vessels are placed for examination, cleaning, and repairs.

3.  (Sport) A football field; – so called because of the resemblance of the parallel marked yard lines to a gridiron{1}.

Today the word only seems to be in common  usage among sportswriters — in this third sense.

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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