The following is a glossary of traditional English-language terms used in the three overarching cue sports disciplines: carom billiards referring to the various games played on a billiard table without ; pool, which denotes a host of games played on a table with six pockets; and snooker, played on a large pocket table, and which has a sport culture unto itself distinct from pool. There are also games such as English billiards that include aspects of multiple disciplines.
The term "" is sometimes used to refer to all of the cue sports, to a specific class of them, or to specific ones such as English billiards; this article uses the term in its most generic sense unless otherwise noted.
The labels "British" and "UK" as applied to entries in this glossary refer to terms originating in the UK and also used in countries that were fairly recently part of the British Empire and/or are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, as opposed to US (and, often, Canadian) terminology. The terms "American" or "US" as applied here refer generally to North American usage. However, due to the predominance of US-originating terminology in most internationally competitive pool (as opposed to snooker), US terms are also common in the pool context in other countries in which English is at least a minority language, and US (and borrowed French) terms predominate in carom billiards. Similarly, British terms predominate in the world of snooker, English billiards, and blackball, regardless of the players' nationalities.
The term "blackball" is used in this glossary to refer to both blackball and eight-ball pool as played in the UK, as a shorthand. Blackball was chosen because it is less ambiguous ("eight-ball pool" is too easily confused with the international standardized "eight-ball"), and blackball is globally standardized by an International Olympic Committee-recognized governing body, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA); meanwhile, its ancestor, eight-ball pool, is largely a folk game, like North American , and to the extent that its rules have been codified, they have been done so by competing authorities with different rulesets. (For the same reason, the glossary's information on eight-ball, nine-ball, and ten-ball draws principally on the stable WPA rules, because there are many competing amateur leagues and even professional tours with divergent rules for these games.)
Foreign-language terms are generally not within the scope of this list, unless they have become an integral part of billiards terminology in English (e.g. ), or they are crucial to meaningful discussion of a game not widely known in the English-speaking world.
The ball placed at the front of a group of (i.e., toward the and furthest from the racker), and in most games situated over the table's .: 32
1. An area defined on a billiard table by one or more . In the eponymous game of balkline billiards, there are eight balks defined by perpendicular balklines, in which only a set number of may be scored before at least one ball must leave the area.: 15 In the earlier (and short-lived) "champions' game", there were four triangular balks, one at each corner, defined by single diagonal balklines. Not to be confused with , but see second definition.
1. A line drawn horizontally from a point on a billiard table's to the corresponding point on the opposite rail, thus defining a region (a ). In the eponymous balkline billiards there are four balklines, drawn parallel to and typically 14 or 18 inches from the cushions of the table, dividing it into nine compartments or divisions, of which the outside eight are the balks, in which only a set number of caroms may be scored before at least one ball must leave the area.: 15 Not to be confused with , though the concepts and etymologies are related. See , second definition.
Any legally strikeable ball on the table in snooker and generally British terminology. For example, in blackball, if a player is playing , any yellow ball (or any solid, from 1 to 7, if using a solids-and-stripes ball set) can be the ball-on until they are all , in which case the 8 ball is the ball-on. In snooker, at the beginning of a player's turn, unless all are already potted, any can be the ball-on. Compare .
Pool, almost always a variant of eight-ball, that is played by on a . Bar pool has rules that vary from region to region, sometimes even from venue to venue in the same city, especially in the U.S. Wise players thus ensure understanding of and agreement to the rules before engaging in a under bar rules. Typical differences between bar pool and tournament eight-ball are the lack of after a , the elimination of a number of fouls, and (with numbered ball sets) the requirement that most aspects of a shot be (including and other to be contacted) not just the and . Bar pool has evolved into this "nitpicky" version principally to make the games last longer, since bar pool is typically played on coin-operated tables that cost money per-game rather than per-hour. Competitive league pool played on bar tables, however, usually uses international, national or local/regional league rules, and is not what is usually meant by "bar pool". Not to be confused with the game of bar billiards.
A distinctive size of pool table found in bars, pubs, or taverns as well as venues such as family entertainment centers, arcades and bowling alleys. These are smaller than the full-size tables found in pool halls. While typical professional and competition tables are 9 ft × 4+1⁄2 ft (2.7 m × 1.4 m), bar tables are typically 7 ft × 3+1⁄2 ft (2.1 m × 1.1 m). In bars they are almost always coin-operated. Another distinguishing factor is the cue ball; these tables capture pocketed to remove them from play, but selectively return a cue ball. The cue balls historically were differently sized or of different density so they could be mechanically separated. Because this changes the mechanics of the cue ball, these cue balls do not play as competition cue balls, and they are therefore deprecated by aficionados. However, modern bar tables typically make use of a magnetic layer inside a regulation size and weight cue ball paired with a magnet mechanism within the table's system that separates out the cue ball without requiring cue ball characteristics that affect play. Systems that use optical sensors to distinguish the cue ball have also been introduced. Pool hall players complain also that the used on bar tables is often greatly inferior (in particular that it is "slow" and that does not "take" enough), and often find that the are not as responsive as they are used to.
The , usually unmarked because of its obviousness at the intersection of the and . As such, it is also the middle of the flat side of . In snooker, same as .: 23–24, 38 : 10 Compare .
In eight-ball, to be shooting the striped () of balls (9 through 15); "you're big, remember", "you're big balls" or "I've got the big ones". Compare , , , ; contrast . Not to be confused with the carom billiards concept of a .
1. Any shot in which the is off an to strike another object ball (with or without contacting cushions in the interim).
1. In snooker, the highest-value on the table, being worth seven points. It is placed on the .: 9 In some snooker ball sets, it is numbered "7" on its surface.
1. In snooker, the worth five points, placed on the in the centre of the table.: 9 In some ball sets, it is numbered "5" on its surface.
The bottle used in various games to hold numbered , it is employed to assign random spots to players in a roster (such as in a tournament), or to assign random balls to players of a game (such as in kelly pool and bottle pool).
Same as , i.e. (UK), (US). Contrast . See illustration at .
Applies specifically to games that enforce "/call-safe" rules, which require the player to either call the ball and pocket, or call a on every shot. After a legal shot, where a called ball is not pocketed as designated, the incoming player has the option to pass the shot back to the player who missed the called shot. If a player calls "safe", then after a legal shot, the incoming player must accept the next shot, and may not pass the shot back to the player who called "safe". A call-shot/call-safe nine-ball example: Player A calls the , the 3 ball in this case, in the corner pocket but misses the shot. The rolls down table and comes to rest behind the 5 ball leaving no clear path to the 3 ball for the incoming player B. Since player A did not call "safe", incoming player B may elect to pass the shot back to player A (who must shoot).
Describes any game in which during normal play a player must call the ball to be hit and the intended pocket; "eight-ball is a call-shot game." Sometimes referred to as "call[ed]-pocket", " rules", etc., to distinguish it from the common North American practice of requiring every aspect of shots to be called, such as , , and to be contacted (this is sometimes also ambiguously referred to as "call-shot", but more accurately termed "call-everything" or "call-it-all"). Commonly in bar rules terminology, call-shot indicates how the shot will be made as compared to call-pocket which means simply that the ball must go into that pocket, details unnecessary. Though games with called shots technically require all shots to be called, obvious shots are seldom actually called, though such implied called shots must still be made. See also .
1. The red in carom billiards games. The term is thought to be derived from an orange-coloured, tropical Asian fruit, called a carambola in English, Spanish, and several other languages, in turn from karambal in the Marathi language of India.
1. Carom came into use in the 1860s and is a shortening of carambola, which was earlier used to describe the red object ball used in many billiards games. In modern usage, the most general meaning of the word refers to any type of strike and rebound, (a ) off a cushion or especially a ball.
One of the main classes of cue sports, possibly the oldest, and certainly the dominant competitive form until well into the 20th century. It is played on a table without pockets, and scoring is generally done by driving a into contact with one , then having the cue ball contact one or more before contacting another object ball; however, there are numerous variations, some of which involve additional objects, such as upright as targets or s. Carom balls are usually larger than pool balls, and most often supplied in sets of three, though some games such as yotsudama require four. Historically the most popular carom games in the modern era were straight rail and cushion caroms, followed by balkline billiards, in turn supplanted by three-cushion billiards which remains a major competitive world sport and is the dominant cue sport in many countries. Some games, such as English billiards, are hybrids between carom and pocket billiards.
Carrom is a table-top game of India, sometimes played with a small cue stick though more often with the fingers, in which small disks are slid on a game board to knock other disks into pockets cut into the corners of the board. It is ancestral to several other games, including novuss, pichenotte, pitchnut, crokinole, and Chapayev. Its historical relationship to billiards games is unclear.
Also century break.In snooker, English billiards and other British usage, a of 100 points or more, which requires at least 25 balls consecutively, in snooker, but can be earned via a combination of scoring techniques in English billiards, etc. A century also means scoring 100+ points in a single turn in straight pool. A century of centuries is the achievement of 100 or more century breaks in a career, a feat few players have performed to date. See also .
1. In snooker, any of the that are not . A colour ball must be after each red in the continuation of a , and are until the reds run out, after which the colours must be potted in their order:
Same as .
1. A widespread term in US parlance describing missing a relatively easy shot—often in the face of pressure. Can be used in many forms: "I dogged the shot"; "I hope he dogs it"; "I'm such a dog." See also , .
Also double elimination.A tournament format in which a player must lose two in order to be eliminated. Contrast .
A violation of a particular game's rules for which a set penalty is imposed. In many pool games the penalty for a foul is ball-in-hand anywhere on the table for the opponent. In some games such as straight pool, a foul results in a loss of one or more points. In one-pocket, in which a set number of balls must be made in a specific pocket, upon a foul the player must return a ball to the table. In some games, three successive fouls in a row is a loss of game. In straight pool, a third successive foul results in a loss of 16 points (15 plus one for the foul).
Possible foul situations (non-exhaustive):
A situation where a player has , leaving the opponent . In UK eight-ball this would normally give the opponent the option of one of two plays: (1) with ; (2) being allowed to contact, or even , a ball other than one from his/her set from the snookered position (although the black may not be potted), with the loss of the first shot. In addition, some variations of the game allow the player to pot one of the opposition's balls, on the first visit only, without the loss of a "free shot".In snooker it allows a player to call any ball as the ball she/he would have wanted to play, potting it for the same number of points, or the opponent can be put back in without the same privilege, having to play the ball snookered on. The definition of snooker on this occasion means the opponent cannot strike both extreme edges of the (or a cluster of touching balls).
A series of successful shots (a ) that is lengthy for the player's skill level. The exact implication is dependent upon context, e.g. "my high run at three-cushion is 15", "Jones had the highest run of the tournament", "that was a pretty high run you just did", etc. Used congratulatorily, it may be phrased "good run", "great run", "nice run", etc. See also .
In eight-ball, to be shooting the solid () of balls (1 through 7); "you're little, remember", "you're the little balls" or "I've got the littles". Compare , , , , , , ; contrast .
1. Chiefly British: Competitive play in with standings consequences, such as local snooker league competition or the World Snooker Championship, as opposed to practice, playing with friends at the pub, or hustling pool for money.
Also simply maximum.In snooker, the highest attainable with the balls that are ; usually 147 points starting by fifteen s, in combination with s, and clearing the s. Also called a 147 (one-four-seven). In six-red snooker, the maximum break is only 75 points, due to fewer red balls and thus fewer black-scoring opportunities. See also .
In carom billiards games, when all the balls are kept near each other and a cushion so that with very soft shots the balls can be "nursed" down a rail, allowing multiple successful shots that effectively replicate the same ball setup so that the nurse shots can be continued almost indefinitely, unless a limit is imposed by the rules.Excessive use of nurse shots in straight rail by players skilled enough to set them up and pull them off repeatedly at will is what led to the development of the balkline and one-cushion game variations, and repetitive shot limitation rules in English billiards.
1. pool: See .
1. Competition between an individual player and an individual opponent, as opposed to team play, , and other multi-player variants.
1. Describes the propensity of to more easily accept an imperfectly aimed ball shot at a relatively soft speed, that might not fall if shot with more velocity ("that ball normally wouldn't fall but he hit it at pocket speed"). The less sensitive to shot-speed that a pocket is, the "" it is said to be.
The side of a . To "aim for the profession side of the pocket" is to slightly a difficult corner-pocket , to , rather than , especially in nine-ball. Erring too much in this direction is "missing on the professional side of the pocket." It is so called because experienced players understand that on a thin cut, overcutting the object ball to a corner pocket will far more often leave the object ball in an unfavorable position, i.e. along the for the incoming opponent than will an undercut, which often leaves the object ball sitting in front of or nearby the pocket it had been intended for on a miss.By contrast, in eight-ball, except when both players are shooting at the , the incoming player after a miss is shooting for different object balls, so this maxim does not apply, and the opposite may be good strategy as, if the object ball stays near the pocket through an undercut, it is advantageously positioned for a subsequent turn and may block the opponent's use of the pocket.
1. In snooker, any of the 15 balls worth one point each that can be potted in any order. During the course of a a player must first a red followed by a , and then a red and colour, etc., until the reds run out and then the six colours must be cleared in their order. Potting more than one red in a single shot is not a foul – the player simply gets a point for each red potted. Red balls are never numbered "1" on their surface, even in (primarily American) sets in which the are numbered with their values.
1. In snooker, the abandonment of a upon agreement between the players, so that the balls can be set up again and the frame restarted with no change to the score since the last completed frame. This is the result of situations, such as trading of , where there is no foreseeable change to the pattern of shots being played, so the frame could go on indefinitely.
1. Same as .
Also semi-massé shot. A moderate curve imparted to the path of the by an elevated hit with use of (); or a shot using this technique. Also known as a (US) or (UK) shot. Compare .
1. (Of a player or referee) to place the balls (and other items, if applicable, such as ) properly for the beginning of a game: "In eight-ball, properly setting up requires that the rear corners of the rack not have two stripes or two solids but one of each." For most games this is in a pattern, but the term is applicable more broadly than "rack", e.g. in carom billiards and in games like bottle pool. Contrast .
1. Verb: To perform some act or make some utterance with the intent to distract, irritate or intimidate the opponent so that they do not perform well, miss a shot, etc. Most league and tournament rules forbid blatant sharking, as a form of unsportsmanlike conduct, but it is very common in .
The amount of this deflection of an object ball from its expected path is increased by several things, including by dirty or pitted balls that briefly grip each other more, by a thick cut-shot angle that provides for extended friction between the balls (cut-induced throw), by slow ball-contact speed (speed-induced throw) for the same reason, by s for the same reason, and by the object ball being impacted by a ball that is rapidly (spin- or -induced throw), which causes the object ball to roll in a curve more toward that throw direction. Throw is reduced by higher-speed impact, by or (bottom or top spin), and by side-spin counter to the direction of the natural throw. Skilled players thus often shoot cut shots with a small amount of – gearing outside english – to neutralize the cut-induced throw that widens the shot away from the , though other techniques may be required instead or in combination with that, depending on the desired cue-ball position at the end of the shot.
Same as . Contrast , . See illustration at .
1 To hit the object ball with not enough of a cut angle; hitting the object ball too full or "fat". It is a well-known maxim that is preferable to undercutting because of the principle of the "". May be used as a noun: "That was a bad undercut."
1. Alternate name for the .
1. In snooker, the lowest-value , being worth two points.: 278 It is one of the . In some (especially American) snooker ball sets, it is numbered "2" on its surface. It is placed on the .: 278 : 10