I have seen clear used as a noun in a number of different sports.

The Gladiators excelled on clears all afternoon, particularly buckling down any time the Seahawks made their way into the circle. (hockey)

North Carolina’s 9-0 run in the second half was assisted in part by a 10-man ride that seemed to cause problems for the Great Danes, who failed on four of eight clears in the third quarter. (lacrosse)

On defense Akers retreated time and again to make crucial clears. (soccer)

YouTube explanations confused me with seemingly conflicted information. Dictionaries seem to be lagging behind. Some dictionaries don't even list clear as a noun. Merriam Webster has an entry:

a high arcing shot over an opponent's head in badminton

This definition is clear but doesn't seem applicable in some other sports. What does clear mean in the context(s) of sports?

1 Answer 1


A clear is to clear the ball (or puck) out of your defensive zone.

One website says:

Clearing the Puck - On defense, the act of getting the puck out of your defensive zone, forcing the opponent to retreat.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary says:

clear (something) in football (soccer) and some other sports if you clear a ball, or a ball clears, it is kicked or hit away from the area near your own goal

English is flexible enough that a verb can be used as a noun in this manner.

The OED calls this a “verbal noun” and lists an example usage from weather, not sports, but the idea is similar:

clear (Verbal n. from clear v.) A clearing of the atmosphere, sky, or weather : The wind shifted..accompanied with a clear.

Wikipedia says that verbal nouns may be "formed from verbs, but behaving grammatically entirely like nouns rather than verbs.”

Some verbs are used commonly enough as nouns that dictionaries will list both forms (such as the words attack or jog), but I’m guessing that the word clear is used as a noun infrequently enough that many dictionaries might not list the noun form. Still, it’s not that rare in the context of sports, as you have observed:

Sienkiewicz posted five saves through 90 minutes with several clears that thwarted the potent UCF offensive attack.

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