This is valid for many sports, but in the context of the FIFA World Cup it makes sense to particularize it to football.

A team, say X, can win or lose. Then we say X won or X lost.

Sometimes it happens that both teams end up even, i.e. in a draw or tie. What is the appropriate way to express that? I always find myself a bit puzzled about this.

Talking about the two teams involved,

  1. Can we say they got a draw or went into a draw?
  2. Is it exactly the same for tie?
  3. Is there a verb version of 'draw' or 'tie'? as in they tied or they drew? I don't know if these exist, but I write them to make my point clear.
  • 1
    You really shouldn't tick an answer 2 hours in. Aside from the people who in other countries who didn't get a chance to answer yet, you're likely to miss something important: in this case, Astralbee provides a long anecdotal account but Bilkokuya and M Stachowski make important points about the etymology of the terms that cause them to be used slightly differently on occasion.
    – lly
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:42
  • I had a concrete question and @Astralbee had answered it entirely. As SE help centre says, the tick is not meant to be for the best answer nor to be definitive at all. Furthermore, regarding people on different timezones (or anyone reading it afterwards), I think is actually better for them to know that from the point of view of the OP (me in this case) the answer has been answered entirely and completely, so in case they want to post an answer themselves, they know they might have a better one but not a more complete one.
    – myradio
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:50
  • 1
    @myradio - RE: Two hours in... You can pick any answer you want at any time you want, but selecting an answer "too quickly" is frown upon by some, for reasons covered in this meta post.
    – J.R.
    Jun 26, 2018 at 15:24

7 Answers 7


There are so many sports, all have their own terminology, and I couldn't possibly comment on them all.

From my point of view as a native British English speaker I believe the following to be generally true:

  • Both "tie" and "draw" are universally understood and are mostly interchangeable when speaking about a final score.

  • "Draw" is used almost exclusively in British football (soccer, to Americans). Football pundits almost never say "tie".

  • "Draw" however is not normally used mid-game, as it refers to the final score. During a game you may speak of two teams or players "tied", but only "drawn" once the game has ended. (thanks to @PeterCordes for highlighting this point)

  • There may be a slight bias towards the word "tie" in American English; although the expression "tie-breaker" is widely used in British English for any extra round in a game or quiz to determine a final winner after a draw.

Regarding your questions on usage:

"Can we say they got a draw or that went into a draw?"

Not really, because a draw is where both teams scored the same, so you would speak of each team or player individually and their own score. It is the entire game which is said "to be a draw", eg:

"It was a draw."
"They drew."

"Is is exactly the same for tie?"


"It was a tie."
"They tied."

"Is there a verb version of draw or tie? as in they tied or they drawn?"

Yes, see examples above. Also:

"The teams have drawn".
"In the event of a draw..."

  • 14
    It's worth noting that there are sports in which "draw" and "tie" are both used, but have different meanings. For example, in cricket, a "tie" is when both teams have the same number of runs at the end of the game (which is extremely rare), whereas a "draw" is when the allotted time (typically five days) was not long enough for both teams to complete their innings (which is extremely common). Jun 25, 2018 at 11:17
  • 6
    @DawoodibnKareem Interestingly, Cricket's use of both words also helps as a nice reminder of the etymology of each. To "tie" comes from being bound together and unified with the same score. To "draw" comes from a "drawn-game", which is debated between "drawn out" (dragged-out; the game never truly ends, as there is no victor) or "withdrawn game" (where both sides have pulled out before there was a satisfying end - such as cock-fighting).
    – user68033
    Jun 25, 2018 at 12:58
  • 7
    As an American, I will confirm that there is a bias towards tie, especially in speech or informal writing. A sports record is typically written as "Win - Loss - Draw", but an American is more likely to say "it was a tie game." Jun 25, 2018 at 16:33
  • 1
    There are some circumstances when we might use "got a draw" with regard a tournament like the FIFA World Cup. Due to the nature of qualifying groups and the complicated way such things work a team may be in a postion were as long as they do not lose the next match they are through to the next round. If they succeed in qualifying but not winning the match we may say they "got a draw".
    – Sarriesfan
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:30
  • Additionally, to draw attention to a single team you could say "Team A drew with Team B" Jun 26, 2018 at 12:35

I would like to add as a native American English speaker, it has been my experience that "tie" can typically be used to describe a sporting event during and at the end of a game; whereas, "draw" is rarely used to describe an event that has not yet finished.

  • 1
    I'll go stronger than that. In my experience, "draw" can only be used to describe the state at the end of the game; whereas a game can be "tied" before it ends with a win for one side and a loss for the other, or it can end it a tie. Jun 25, 2018 at 21:14
  • the fact that both of us started with "my experience" is basically why I didn't go as far as saying "only" Jun 26, 2018 at 13:51

In the context of football, both a draw and a tie are appropriate. In other sports, a tie typically involves some sort of equal score, while a draw doesn't have to - so a single chess game can be drawn, but generally not tied.

Grammatically, draw or tie are most commonly used either as nouns, or referring to the game rather than the teams (eg. the match was drawn / tied ). But it's also okay to say "Team A tied/drew with Team B" or "Team A and Team B tied/drew".

As for your examples - if Team A "gets a draw/tie", I'd read it as Team A wanting to draw the match, for example because they're weaker and getting a draw is a success.

"Go into a draw" seems not to be a common expression.

  • 6
    This is all good, until the last paragraph. The verb phrase "to go into a draw" is indeed a common expression, but it means something quite different. Usually, it means there's some kind of random selection process to see what games will be in the next round of a competition. For example, the 32 teams competing in the World Cup go into a draw to see who's in each pool. Jun 25, 2018 at 11:13

I'll add one interesting sport where there is a distinction made. In cricket a tie refers specifically to when there is an even score on both sides, but a draw may refer to a situation where the game does not complete and so no winner is determined, but the score wasn't even when play ended.


You don't say your location, and most of the answers here are for American English, so I'll add (what I feel is) the standard in the UK.

Scores can be tied, but you rarely hear that a completed game is tied; if I were to hear the game was tied, I would likely assume that it was to be completed at a later date.

Similarly, scores cannot be drawn; instead, if I were to hear the game is drawn then I'd assume that the game had just finished and there was no winner.

Hearing the game ended in a tie, or the game was tied, is a little more common, but still overwhelmingly it's the game ended in a draw or the game was drawn, or the game ended with the scores tied.

Someone mentioned a tie-breaker. This word is used consistently with the above, in that the game is not yet over, and it breaks the tie in the score. I've never heard draw-breaker, as draw is used for completed games.

Finally, team A drew team B was mentioned a couple of times. This is a completely different meaning of the word draw -- it's a more classical meaning, possibly coming originally from drawing names/teams out of a hat (for example).


In America, we don't use "draw" very often. We typically use "tie". Examples:

"The game is tied, 2-2."

"The game is tied up at 2-2."

"The game ended in a tie."

"It's a tie game right now."

"One more goal will tie the game."

"One more goal and the game will be tied."


I've always heard (US northern midwest) tie to mean a condition of equal scores, which might be during or after a game, while draw is an outcome resulting from an inability to declare a winner (either because a tie went unresolved or some other reason, as in the chess example above). I frequently hear that a game is tied, but I hear that it ended in a draw rather than being drawn.

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