Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: lacrosse from Dictionary of Sports and Games Terminology

(sport) a field game of French-Canadian origin played by men and women (with different rules for each) in which a crosse is used to throw, catch, and cradle the ball and drive it into the opponents’ goal [Canadian French (le jeu de) la crosse, “(the game of) the hooked stick”]


Summary Article: lacrosse from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ləkrôs'), ball and goal game usually played outdoors by two teams of 10 players each on a field 60 to 70 yd (54.86 to 64.01 m) wide by 110 yd (100.58 m) long. Two goals face each other 80 yd (73.15 m) apart; each cone-shaped goal is 6 ft (1.8 m) square at the mouth and 7 ft (2.13 m) deep. The ball, about 8 in. (20 cm) in circumference and about 5 oz (.14 kg) in weight, is made of hard rubber. The stick, or crosse—from which the game gets its name because of the traditional stick's resemblance to a bishop's crosier—consists of a handle and an adjustable, pocketlike meshwork head in which the ball is received, carried, and passed. Teams direct their play toward advancing the ball so as to hurl or kick it into the opponent's goal (each goal counting one point). The team scoring the most points wins. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands, and no other player may enter the crease—the 18 ft x 12 ft (5.49 m x 3.66 m) area surrounding the goal. Lacrosse is a game of rough physical contact; personal and technical fouls lead to disqualification or to temporary suspensions (as in ice hockey) that leave the penalized team a player short. A referee and a judge are the officials. A game is divided into four quarters of 25 min each; two overtime periods of 5 min each are played in the event of a tie. The game was developed as a war-training and spiritual exercise by North American natives. Called "baggataway," it was violent and had few fixed rules. Adopted and named lacrosse by French settlers, it became increasingly popular. In 1856 the Montreal Lacrosse Club was organized, and in 1860 the rules of the game were standardized. After Parliament adopted (1867) lacrosse as the national game of Canada, the National Lacrosse Association (now the Canadian Lacrosse Association) was established as the governing body of the sport. Lacrosse has attracted a wide amateur following since that time, and was formerly (1920–32) played professionally in Canada by 12-man teams. Introduced into the United States in the 1870s, it is now a popular college, school, and club game in the eastern United States. The United States has dominated international play, in which Canada, Australia, and the Iroquois Nation have also been prominent. Women's lacrosse, developed in England in the early 1900s, is less rough than the men's game. Box lacrosse, an indoor version played in hockey rinks, is played professionally in Canada and the United States.

  • See Wey, A. M.;Roberts, M. R., The Lacrosse Story (1965);.
  • Hartman, P. E., Lacrosse Fundamentals (1968).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Hockey, Ice Hockey, and Lacrosse
Bloomsbury Thesaurus

Nouns 1 hockey field hockey (US), indoor hockey, Olympic hockey, hockey stick, hockey ball, goal, striking circle, shooting...

Full text Article Lacrosse
Encyclopedia of Intelligence & Counterintelligence

Designed to provide space-based radar imaging for the United States, Lacrosse satellites and their missions have remained highly classified...

Full text Article lacrosse
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

A 10-a-side field game (12 for women) played with a ball and a long-handled stick (the crosse), which has a triangular head with a raw-hide...

See more from Credo