How to Talk About the World Cup: A Practical Glossary
How to tell a hospital ball from a dead ball and a banana kick from a nutmeg
Many of you may be feeling left out of the World Cup, with its varied cast of accent-riddled names and seemingly impenetrable insider slang. Soccer, or “football” if you’re feeling European, isn’t as comprehensible as American sports, which have clear, easily understood terms such as “World Series” (for an American sport consisting solely of North American teams).
But we’re here to help. Below, find 15 of the most confusing terms you’re likely to hear during discussions of the World Cup, and how to avoid confusion with their use.
The Term: “Golazo”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A type of soup, served cold.
What It Actually Means: It means “goal.” A very good goal, to be precise. Pronounced in the above video with a full eight seconds of “a”‘s. Can be occasionally hard to pin down, because World Cup fans usually cheer every goal as if it will save them from the very precipice of death itself.
The Term: “Nutmeg”
What It Sounds Like It Means: The delicious spice commonly used in pumpkin pie or the Penang dessert dish aic kacang.
What It Actually Means: When one player puts the ball through a defender’s legs and collects it again on the other side. Demoralizing for one team, extraordinarily exciting for another.
The Term: “Banana Kick”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A period of infatuation with the oblong yellow fruit, for example: “I’ve been on a real banana kick lately.”
What It Actually Means: A kick that causes the ball to curve mid-air instead of traveling in a straight line. Possibly witchcraft.
The Term: “Clean Sheet”
What It Sounds Like It Means: Often the point of contention in any co-habitative relationship, e.g. “These sheets are clean.” “That is not a clean sheet, honey.”
What It Actually Means: A shutout, or when one team defeats the opposition without allowing them to score.
The Term: “Cap”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A jaunty hat, perhaps rakishly cocked sideways on one’s head. Alternately, an affectionate nickname for Captain America, for those who do not realize his real name is Steve.
What It Actually Means: Recognition given to a country’s player when they play an international game.
The Term: “Hacking”
What It Sounds Like It Means: That thing where people type really fast in television shows your mom watches and this happens. Sometimes it might look like this this.
What It Actually Means: Going for the shins or otherwise fouling another player.
The Term: “Pitch”
What It Sounds Like It Means: Ideas, as in those hurled rapidly at a hassled network showrunner or managing editor. The act of throwing a ball. A viscous substance produced by plants or formed from petroleum.
What It Actually Means: The field of play.
The Term: “Wall”
What It Sounds Like It Means: That one Pink Floyd album about alienation and despair. No, the other one. A now-defunct place to purchase CDs and other forms of physical media in the 1990s.
What It Actually Means: When players line up shoulder to shoulder to prevent a free kick from being scored, often while wisely shielding their groins.
The Term: “Winger”
What It Sounds Like It Means: That band from the ’80s with the lead singer who did ballet spins onstage and sang about underage girls.
What It Actually Means: A position that combines outside midfielder and forward. They usually stay out on the flanks and don’t come into the center of the field, which makes it look like they’re not doing anything. But they are. According to them.
The Term: “Boom Ball”
What It Sounds Like It Means: An explosive sphere.
What It Actually Means: A long kick at the opponent’s goal. Kind of like a Hail Mary pass in football.
The Term: “Dead Ball”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A pickup game of basketball played by zombies.
What It Actually Means: When the ball has stopped moving and play has stopped.
The Term: “Danger Man”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A dangerous man.
What It Actually Means: A player who can score from anywhere on the field.
The Term: “Hospital Ball”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A game played in hospitals. A lost episode of ER. The reason I’m not allowed in Beth-Israel anymore, even though all the patients loved it and only one X-ray machine got broken, thank you very much.
What It Actually Means: A pass to a teammate that could put a teammate in danger. Note: If said teammate is a danger man, this is referred to as a Danger Hospital Ball, and the player receiving the Danger Hospital Ball catches fire like in NBA Jam and briefly receives special powers. (OK, not really.)
The Term: “Bunny Hop”
What It Sounds Like It Means: A cute rabbit performing a small jump. Also the term for a jump or hop in BMX biking. (Really!)
What It Actually Means: When a player clenches the ball between his feet and hops over a defender’s searching feet/legs.