Glossary of Billiard Terms
From the 'Billiard Congress of America Official Rules and Records Book.
ANGLED. (Snooker, pocket games) When the corner of a pocket prevents a player shooting the cue ball directly at an object ball. (See corner-hooked)
ANGLE SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot that requires the cue ball to drive the object ball other than straight ahead. (See cut shot)
APEX OF TRIANGLE. (Pocket games) The position in the grouping of object balls that is on the foot spot; the front ball position of the pyramid or rack.
AROUND THE TABLE. (Carom games) Describes shots in which the cue ball contacts three or more cushions, usually including the two short cushions, in an effort to score.
BALANCE POINT. (General) The point on a cue at which it would remain level if held by a single support, usually about 18" from the butt end of the cue.
BALL IN HAND. (Pocket games) See cue ball in hand.
BALL ON. (Snooker) A colored (non-red) ball a player intends to legally pocket; same as on ball.
BANK SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot in which the object ball is driven to one or more cushions before it is pocketed; incidental contact as a ball moves along and adjacent to a cushion does not qualify as a cushion or bank. It is not an obvious shot and must be called in games requiring called shots. (See kick shot)
BAULK. (Snooker) The intervening space between the bottom cushion and the Baulk-line.
BAULK-LINE. (Snooker) A straight line drawn 29" from the face of the bottom cushion and parallel to it.
BED OF TABLE. (General) The flat, cloth-covered surface of the table within the cushions; the playing area exclusive of the cushions.
BILLIARD. (Carom games) A count or score; a successful shot.
BLIND DRAW. (General) A method used to determine pairings or bracketing of players in tournaments that assures totally random placement or pairing of contestants.
BOTTLE. (Pocket games) A specially shaped leather or plastic container used in various games. (Also called the shake bottle)
BOTTOM CUSHION. (Snooker) The cushion located at the head of a snooker table--closest to the D.
BREAK. (Pocket games) See open break and opening break shot.
BREAK. (Snooker) Total scored in one inning.
BREAKING VIOLATION. (Pocket games) A violation of special rules which apply only to the opening break shot of certain games. Unless specified in individual game rules, a breaking violation is not a foul.
BRIDGE. (General) The hand configuration that holds and guides the shaft-end of the cue during play. (See mechanical bridge)
BURST. (Forty-One Pocket Billiards) Scoring a total of more than 41 points.
BUTT OF CUE. (General) The larger end of a cue, opposite the tip. On a two-piece cue, the butt extends up to the joint.
CALL SHOT. (Pocket games) Requirement that a player designate, in advance of each shot, the ball to be made and the pocket into which it will be made. In calling the shot, it is NEVER necessary to indicate details such as the number of cushions, banks, kisses, caroms, etc. The rules of "Bank Pool" are an exception.
CALLED BALL. (Pocket games) The ball the player has designated to be pocketed on a shot.
CALLED POCKET. (Pocket games) The pocket which a player has designated a ball to be shot.
CAROM. (General) To bounce off or glance off an object ball or cushion; a shot in which the cue ball bounces off one ball into another is termed a carom.
CAROM, SCORING. (General) Contact by the cue ball with object balls, the bottle or cushions in such a way that a legal score is made, according to specific game rules.
CENTER SPOT. (General) The exact center point of a table's playing surface.
CHALK. (General) A dry, slightly abrasive substance that is applied to the cue tip to help assure a non-slip contact between the cue tip and the cue ball.
CHUCK NURSE. (Straight Rail Billiards) A scoring technique used when one object ball rests against the cushion and the second object ball is to one side of the first ball and away from the cushion. Cue ball strikes the object ball at the cushion so that the cue ball just comes back to touch (carom) the second object ball without moving it out of position for a similar subsequent shot.
CLEAN BANK. (Bank Pocket Billiards) A shot in which the object ball being played does not touch any other object balls (i.e., no kisses, no combinations).
CLEAR BALL. (Carom games) The all-white ball, devoid of any markings, used in carom games. (See spot ball)
COMBINATION. (Pocket games) Shot in which the cue ball first strikes a ball other than the one to be pocketed, with the ball initially contacted in turn striking one or more other balls in an effort to score.
COMBINATION ON. (Pocket games) Two or more balls positioned in such a way that a ball can be driven into a called pocket with a combination shot; often called a "dead combo" or an "on combo."
COMBINATION ON. (Snooker) See plant.
CONTACT POINT. (General) The precise point of contact between the cue ball and the object ball when the cue ball strikes the object ball.
CORNER-HOOKED. (Pocket games, Snooker) When the corner of a pocket prevents shooting the cue ball in a straight path directly to an object ball, the cue ball is corner-hooked; same as angled.
COUNT. (General) A score; a successful shot.
COUNT, THE. (General) The running score at any point during a player's inning in games where numerous points are scored successively.
CROSS CORNER. (Pocket games) Term used to describe a bank shot that will rebound from a cushion and into a corner pocket.
CROSS SIDE. (Pocket games) Term used to describe a bank shot that will rebound from a cushion and into a side pocket.
CROSS TABLE SHOT. (Carom games) Shot in which scoring is accomplished by driving the cue ball across the table between the long cushion.
CROTCH. (Carom games) The corner area of a carom table in straight-rail billiards in which a player may score no more than three successive counts with the balls before driving at least one object ball out of the area. The four crotches are defined as those spaces within crotch lines drawn between first diamond on the end rail to the second diamond on the side rail.
CRUTCH. (General) Slang term for the mechanical bridge.
CUE. (General) Tapered device, usually wooden, used to strike the cue ball to execute carom or pocket billiard shots. (Also called cue stick)
CUE BALL. (General) The white, unnumbered ball that is always struck by the cue during play.
CUE BALL IN HAND. (Pocket games) Cue ball may be put into play anywhere on the playing surface.
CUE BALL IN HAND BEHIND THE HEAD STRING. (Pocket games) Cue ball may be put into play anywhere between the head string and the cushion on the head end of the table not in contact with an object ball.
CUE BALL IN HAND WITHIN THE D. (Snooker) See cue ball in hand within the half-circle.
CUE BALL IN HAND WITHIN THE HALF-CIRCLE. (Snooker) The cue ball is in hand within the half-circle when it has entered a pocket or has been forced off the table. The base of the cue ball may be placed anywhere within or on the half-circle. It remains in hand until the player strikes the cue ball with the tip of the cue or a foul is committed while the ball is on the table.
CUE TIP. (General) A piece of specially processed leather or other fibrous or pliable material attached to the shaft end of the cue that contacts the cue ball when a shot is executed.
CUSHION. (General) The cloth-covered rubber which borders the inside of the rails on carom and pocket billiard tables; together the cushions form the outer perimeter of the basic playing surface.
CUT SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot in which the cue ball contacts the object ball to one side or the other of full center, thus driving it in a direction other than that of the initial cue ball path.
D. (Snooker) An area, semi-circular in shape, with the straight side formed by the line drawn between the spot for the yellow and the spot for the green measured 29 inches out from the face of the bottom cushion (sometimes referred to as the baulk line) and the semi-circle is determined by the size of the table being used.
DEAD BALL. (Pocket games) A cue ball stroked in such a manner that virtually all of the speed and/or spin of the cue ball is transferred to the object ball, the cue ball retaining very little or none after contact.
DEAD BALL SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot in which a dead ball stroke is employed; often called a kill shot, because of the relative lack of cue ball motion after contact with the object ball.
DEAD COMBINATION. (Pocket games) See combination on.
DIAMONDS. (General) Inlays or markings on the table rails that are used as reference or target points. The diamonds are essential for the utilization of numerous mathematical systems employed by carom and pocket games players.
DRAW SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball is struck below center, and the resulting back spin causes the cue ball to return towards the player after full contact with an object ball.
DROP POCKETS. (Pocket games) Type of pockets with no automatic return of the balls to the foot end of the table; balls must be removed manually.
DOUBLE ELIMINATION. (General) A tournament format in which a player is not eliminated until he has sustained two match losses.
DOUBLE HIT. (General) A shot on which the cue ball is struck twice by the cue tip on the same stroke.
DOUBLE ROUND ROBIN. (General) A tournament format in which each contestant in a field plays each of the other players twice.
ENGLISH. (General) Side spin applied to the cue ball by striking it off center; used to alter the natural roll of the cue ball and/or the object ball.
FEATHER SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball barely touches or grazes the object ball; an extremely thin cut.
FERRULE. (General) A piece of protective material (usually plastic, horn or metal) at the end of the cue shaft, onto which the cue tip is attached.
FOLLOW SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball is struck above center and the resulting forward spin causes the cue ball to roll forward after contact with an object ball.
FOLLOW-THROUGH. (General) The movement of the cue after contact with the cue ball through the area previously occupied by the cue ball.
FOOT OF TABLE. (General) The end of a carom or pocket billiard table at which the balls are racked or positioned at the start of a game.
FOOT SPOT. (General) The point on the foot end of the table where imaginary lines drawn between the center diamonds of the short rails and the second diamonds of the long rails intersect.
FOOT STRING. (General) A line on the foot end of the table between the second diamonds of the long rails, passing through the foot spot. The foot string is never drawn on the table, and has no use in play.
FORCE. (General) The power applied on the stroke to the cue ball, which may result in distortion and altering of natural angles and action of the ball.
FORCE DRAW. (General) A shot with extreme follow, usually directly at and then "through" an object ball.
FORCE FOLLOW. (General) A follow shot with extreme overspin applied to the cue ball, with the term generally used in reference to shots in which the cue ball is shot directly at and then "through" an object ball, with a pronounced hesitation or stop before the overspin propels the cue ball forward in the general direction of the stroke.
FOUL. (General) An infraction of the rules of play, as defined in either the general or the specific game rules. (Not all rule infractions are fouls.) Fouls result in a penalty, also dependent on specific game rules.
FOUL STROKE. (General) A stroke on which a foul takes place.
FRAME. (Snooker) The equivalent of one game in snooker.
FREE BALL. (Snooker) After a foul, if the cue ball is snookered, the referee shall state "Free Ball." If the non-offending player takes the next stroke he may nominate any ball as on, and for this stroke, such ball shall be regarded as, and acquire the value of, the ball on.
FREE BREAK. (Pocket games) An opening break shot in which a wide spread of the object balls may be achieved without penalty or risk. Free breaks are detailed in individual games rules.
FROZEN. (General) A ball touching another ball or cushion.
FULL BALL. (General) Contact of the cue ball with an object ball at a contact point on a line bisecting the centers of the cue ball and object ball.
GAME. The course of play that starts when the referee has finished racking the balls, and ends at the conclusion of a legal shot which pockets the last required ball. In 14.1 continuous, a game lasts several racks.
GAME BALL. (General) The ball which, if pocketed legally, would produce victory in a game.
GATHER SHOT. (Carom games) A shot on which appropriate technique and speed are employed to drive one or more balls away from the other(s) in such a manner that when the stroke is complete, the balls have come back together closely enough to present a comparatively easy scoring opportunity for the next shot.
GRIP. (General) The manner in which the butt of the cue is held in the hand.
GULLY TABLE. (Pocket games) A table with pockets and a return system that delivers the balls as they are pocketed to a collection bin on the foot end of the table.
HANDICAPPING. (General) Modifications in the scoring and/or rules of games to enable players of differing abilities to compete on more even terms.
HEAD OF TABLE. (General) The end of a carom or pocket billiard table from which the opening break is performed; the end normally marked with the manufacturer's nameplate.
HEAD SPOT. (General) The point on the head of the table where imaginary lines drawn between the center diamonds of the short rails and the second diamonds of the long rails intersect.
HEAD STRING. (General) A line on the head end of the table between the second diamonds of the long rails, passing through the head spot.
HICKEY. (Snooker Golf) Any foul.
HIGH RUN. (14.1 Continuous) During a specified segment of play, the greatest number of balls scored in one turn (inning) at the table.
HOLD. (General) English which stops the cue ball from continuing the course of natural roll it would take after having been driven in a certain direction.
INNING. (General) A turn at the table by a player, and which may last for several racks in some pocket games.
IN HAND. (Pocket games) See cue ball in hand.
IN HAND BEHIND THE HEAD STRING. (Pocket games) See cue ball in hand behind the head string.
IN-OFF. (Snooker) A losing hazard; that is, when the cue ball enters a pocket. The snooker equivalent of a scratch.
IN THE RACK. (14.1 Continuous) A ball that would interfere with the reracking of the object balls in 14.1 Continuous that extend past one rack.
JAW. (Pocket games) The slanted part of the cushion that is cut at an angle to form the opening from the bed of the table into the pocket.
JAWED BALL. (Pocket games) Generally refers to a ball that fails to drop because it bounces back and forth against the jaws of a pocket.
JOINT. (General) On two-piece cues, the screw-and-thread device, approximately midway in the cue, that permits it to be broken down into two separate sections.
JUMP SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball or object ball is caused to rise off the bed of the table.
JUMPED BALL. (General) A ball that has left and remained off the playing surface as the result of a stroke; a ball that is stroked in a manner which causes it to jump over another ball.
KEY BALL. (14.1 Continuous) The 14th ball of each rack; called the key ball because it is so critical in obtaining position for the all important first (or break) shot of each reracking of the balls.
KICK SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball banks off a cushion(s) prior to making contact with an object ball or scoring.
KILL SHOT. (Pocket games) See dead ball shot.
KISS. (General) Contact between balls. (See kiss shot)
KISS SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot in which more than one contact with object balls is made by the cue ball; for example, the cue ball might kiss from one object ball into another to score the latter ball. Shots in which object balls carom off one or more other object balls to be pocketed. (Also called carom shots)
KISS-OUT. (General) Accidental contact between balls that causes a shot to fail.
KITCHEN. (Pocket games) A slang term used to describe the area of the table between the head string and the cushion on the head end of the table. (Also called the area above the head string)
LAG. (Carom games) A shot in which the cue ball is shot three or more cushions before contacting the object balls.
LAG FOR BREAK. (General) Procedure used to determine starting player of game. Each player shoots a ball from behind the head string to the foot cushion, attempting to return the ball as closely as possible to the head cushion.
LEAVE. (Pocket games) The position of the balls after a player's shot.
LONG. (General) Usually refers to a ball which, due to english and speed, travels a path with wider angles than those that are standard for such a ball if struck with natural english and moderate speed.
LONG STRING. (Pocket games) A line drawn from the center of the foot cushion to the foot spot (and beyond if necessary) on which balls are spotted.
LOSING HAZARD. (Snooker) Occurs when the cue ball is pocketed after contact with an object ball.
LOT. (General) Procedures used, not involving billiard skills, to determine starting player or order of play. Common methods used are flipping coins, drawing straws, drawing cards, or drawing peas or pills.
MASSE SHOT. (General) A shot in which extreme english is applied to the cue ball by elevating the cue butt at an angle with the bed of the table of anywhere between 30 and 90 degrees. The cue ball usually takes a curved path, with more curve resulting from increasing cue stick elevation.
MATCH. The course of play that starts when the players are ready to lag and ends when the deciding game ends.
MECHANICAL BRIDGE. (General) A grooved device mounted on a handle providing support for the shaft of the cue during shots difficult to reach with normal bridge hand. Also called a crutch or rake.
MISCUE. (General) A stroke which results in the cue tip contact with cue ball being faulty. Usually the cue tip slides off the cue ball without full transmission of the desired stroke. The stroke usually results i a sharp sound and discoloration of the tip and/or the cue ball at the point of contact.
MISS. (General Failure to execute a completed shot.
MISS. (Snooker) The call the referee makes in snooker if it is judged the player has not endeavored to the best of his ability to hit the ball on.
NATURAL. (Carom games) A shot with only natural angle and stroke required for successful execution; a simple or easily visualized, and accomplished, scoring opportunity.
NATURAL ENGLISH. (General) Moderate sidespin applied to the cue ball that favors the direction of the cue ball path, giving the cue ball a natural roll and a bit more speed than a center hit.
NATURAL ROLL. (General) Movement of the cue ball with english applied.
NIP DRAW. (General) A short, sharp stroke, employed when a normal draw stroke would result in a foul due to drawing the cue ball back into the cue tip.
NURSES. (Carom games) Techniques whereby the balls are kept close to the cushions and each other, creating a succession of relatively easy scoring opportunities.
OBJECT BALLS. (General) The balls other than the cue ball on a shot.
OBJECT BALL, THE. (Pocket games) The particular object ball being played on a shot.
ON BALL. (Snooker) See ball on.
OPEN BREAK. (Pocket games) The requirement in certain games that a player must drive a minimum of four object balls out of the rack to the cushions in order for the shot to be legal.
OPENING BREAK SHOT. (General) The first shot of a game.
PEAS. (Pocket games) Small plastic or wooden balls numbered 1 through 15 or 16, use defined in specific games rules. (Called pills.)
PILLS. (Pocket games) See peas.
PLANT. (Snooker) A position of two or more red balls that allows a ball to be driven into a pocket with a combination shot.
POSITION. (General) The placement of the cue ball on each shot relative to the next planned shot. Also called shape.
POT. (Snooker) The pocketing of an object ball.
POWDER. (General) Talc or other fine, powdery substance used to facilitate free, easy movement of the cue shaft through the bridge.
POWER DRAW SHOT. (General) Extreme draw applied to the cue ball. (See force draw.)
PUSH SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue tip maintains contact with the cue ball beyond the split second allowed for a normal and legally stroked shot.
PYRAMID. (Pocket games) Positioning of the object balls in a triangular grouping (with the front apex ball on the foot spot), used to begin many pocket billiard games.
PYRAMID SPOT. (Snooker) The same as the pink spot. The spot is marked midway between the center spot and the face of the top cushion.
RACE. (General) Pre-determined number of games necessary to win a match or set of games. For example, a match that is the best 11 out of 21 games is called a race to 11, and ends when one player has won 11 games.
RACK. The triangular equipment used for gathering the balls into the formation required by the game being played.
RAILS. (General) The top surface of the table, not covered by cloth, from which the cushions protrude toward the playing surface. The head and foot rails are the short rails on those ends of the table; the right and left rails are the long rails, dictated by standing at the head end of the table and facing the foot end.
RED BALL. (Carom games) The red-colored object ball. (Also the name of a particular 3-cushion billiard game.)
REST. (Snooker) The mechanical bridge.
REVERSE ENGLISH. (General) Sidespin applied to the cue ball, that favors the opposite direction of the natural cue ball path - i.e. inside english.
ROUND ROBIN. (General) A tournament format in which each contestant plays each of the other players once.
RUNNING ENGLISH. (General) Sidespin applied to the cue ball which causes it to rebound from an object ball or a cushion at a narrower angle and at a faster speed than it would if struck at the same speed and direction without english.
RUN. (General) The total of consecutive scores, points or counts made by a player in one inning. The term is also used to indicate the total number of full short-rack games won without a missed shot in a match or tournament.
SAFETY. (General) Defensive positioning of the balls so as to minimize the opponent's chances to score. (The nature and rules concerning safety play are decidedly different in specific games.) Player's inning ends after a safety play.
SCRATCH. (Carom games) To score a point largely by accident, due to an unanticipated kiss, unplanned time-shot, etc.
SCRATCH. (Pocket games) The cue ball is going into a pocket on a stroke.
SEEDING. (General) Pre-determined initial pairings or advanced positioning of players in a field of tournament competition.
SET. (General) Pre-determined number of games necessary to win a match.
SHAFT. (General) The thinner part of a cue, on which the cue tip is attached. On a two-piece cue, the shaft extends from the cue tip to the joint.
SHAKE BOTTLE. (Pocket games) See bottle.
SHOT. An action that begins at the instant the cue tip contacts the cue ball, and ends when all balls in play stop rolling and spinning.
SHOT CLOCK. (General) Any timing device used to gauge the time limit in which a player is allowed to play a shot. The timing device must have at least the functions of a stop watch: reset to zero, start, and stop. A simple wrist watch without timing functions is not sufficient.
SHORT. (General) Usually refers to a ball which, due to english and stroke, travels a path with narrower angles than those for a ball struck without english.
SHORT-RACK. (Pocket games) Games which utilize fewer than 15 countable object balls.
SINGLE ELIMINATION. (General) A tournament format in which a single loss eliminates a player from the competition.
SNAKE. (Carom games) A shot in which the use of english causes the cue ball to make three or more cushion contacts, though utilizing only two different cushions. Also called a double-the-rail shot.
SNOOKERED. (Snooker) The condition of incoming player's cue ball position when he cannot shoot in a straight line and contact all portions of an on ball directly facing the cue ball (because of balls not "on" that block the path.
SPLIT DOUBLE ELIMINATION. (General) A modification of the double elimination tournament format, in which the field is divided into sections, with one player emerging from each of the sections to compete for the championship, in a single showdown match for the championship.
SPLIT HIT. A shot in which it cannot be determined which object ball(s) the cue ball contacted first, due to the close proximity of the object balls.
SPOT. (General) The thin, circular piece of cloth or paper glued onto the cloth to indicate the spot locality (i.e.., head spot, center spot, foot spot); also an expression to describe a handicap.
SPOT BALL. (Carom games) The white ball differentiated from the clear by on or more markings; usually spots, dots or circles.
SPOT SHOT. (Pocket games) Player shoots a ball on the foot spot with the cue ball in hand behind the head string.
SPOTTING BALLS. (General) Replacing balls to the table in positions as dictated by specific game rules.
STANCE. (General The position of the body during shooting.
STOP SHOT. (Pocket games) A shot in which the cue ball stops immediately upon striking the object ball.
STRIKER. (Snooker) The player who is about to shoot and has yet to complete his inning.
STROKE. (General) The movement of the cue as a shot is executed.
SUCCESSIVE FOULS. (Pocket games) Fouls made on consecutive strokes by the same player, also called consecutive fouls.
TABLE IN POSITION. (General) Term used to indicate that the object balls remain unmoved following a shot.
THROW SHOT. (Pocket games) 1. A shot in which english alters the path of the object ball. 2. A combination shot of frozen or near frozen object balls in which to rubbing of the first ball across the second ball pulls the shot away from the line joining the centers of the two balls.
TIME SHOT. (General) A shot in which the cue ball (most often) moves another ball into a different position and then continues on to meet one of the moved balls for a score.
TOP CUSHION. (Snooker) The cushion located at the foot of a snooker table--closest to the black spot.
TRIANGLE. (Pocket games) The triangular device used to place the balls in position for the start of most games.
YELLOW BALL. (Carom games) In international competition the spot ball has been replaced by a yellow ball without any markings.