When we hear the word score, we immediately think of whatever we need to do to beat our rivals in a competition. This may be a ball entering a goal in soccer, going through a hoop in basketball, or being placed on the in-goal area in rugby. In other words, there are as many meanings to this word as sports. However, in our path to master the English language, we find out that there are many other meanings to this word that are unrelated to sports.
Apart from sports, we can use the word score in many other aspects of our lives. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t always refer to being successful at something or keeping an advantage over others. Surprised? Well, at this time, you shouldn’t. You know English is a beautiful language (I know so because I am in charge of telling you that every single time we meet). And this multi-meaning feature is one of the factors that makes it such an exciting language to learn. So, why don’t we discover the different meanings and uses of the word score?
As we mentioned before, many words in the English language have identical spelling or pronunciation but different meanings. These words are called homonyms. If you think about it, there are lots (and when I say a lot, I mean a lot!) of homonyms in English. This may sound like a complex thing to understand, but it becomes elementary once you get how they work. And there are some valuable tools to help you do that.
The most helpful tool we have in English to detect the exact meaning of a homonym is context. Once we learn the different things the same word may refer to, we use context to decide the correct one. Take, for example, the word bear. We know that it may refer to the animal or to the action of withstanding an event. Context, in this case, tells us what meaning is the one we need to give to that word. To this tool, we can also add a pinch of common sense or logic. In other terms, when someone tells you to look at that bear, what do you think the correct meaning would be?
So, now that we know what a homonym is, we can jump to our list of different meanings and uses of today’s word: score. With this example, you will find out that homonyms may refer to areas with nothing to do with each other. As one of them is used for sports, another may relate to money, quantities, or any topic you may think of. As a plus, homonyms may have different grammar uses. While one of its meanings is a noun, another one may be a verb. But we’ll deal with them as we advance in the different homonyms of the word score.
The most common meaning of the word score may be the one related to sports. It refers to the points that a team needs to defeat a rival. Whatever the means of getting an advantage in the result, the score will define which team the winner is at the end of a game. When related to sports, the word score can be used as a verb or a noun. An example of the first one may be:
Are you watching the Champions League match? What’s the score?
When used as a verb, to score belongs to the regular verb category. It may be transitive, meaning it needs an object, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals last game. On the other hand, it can also be intransitive, which means the verb itself carries enough meaning on its own. Let’s see an example of this:
After a five-game drought, Manchester United’s striker scored against Liverpool.
There is a British English meaning of the word score related to the one used for sports. Instead of referring to the overall performance of a sport discipline, it describes an academic result. It is generally used for exams or papers that receive a grade. This grade (the American English version of this homonym of score) defines whether you pass or fail a specific subject, exam, report, etc. Let’s see an example of this:
Sally is the most intelligent student in the class. Her scores are never below 9.
In this example, the word score is used as a noun. However, it can also take the form of a transitive verb carrying the same meaning. Surprising as it may sound, this verb is also used in American English. Let’s see how it works:
The Grammar Teacher scored the final exams as soon as we delivered them. So we had to wait and see if we had passed or failed the subject.
Wow. Three meanings in the same category? Well, yes and no. These words and uses of homonyms of the word score are pretty similar. They all mean to do some kind of marking on a surface. The main difference is where that marking is and how it’s done. For example, a car door may have a scratch. A piece of paper may need a crease to make it easier to fold or tear in a straight line. A notch on a wooden wall may indicate bugs or termites inside of it (yuck!). Whatever the use, we can replace it by score, as we’ll see in the following examples:
Each of these uses can also take a verbal form, as we showed in the previous examples. As they are all transitive, they will need an object to score in your sentence. Here’s one example to explain how it would be:
My uncle scored the wall as he was trying to kill a mosquito using a knife. And, of course, he missed!
Yes! English is so beautiful that it includes a meaning of the word score related to music! Now, what does it refer to? As we all know, songs or classical music are expressed both in sounds and writing. Well, that written piece of paper that tells performers what to play is called a score. Some people also use the term ‘musical sheet,’ but it’s not as accepted. So, an example of this could be:
John Towner Williams wrote the score for the Star Wars saga.
(You can thank me later for letting you know who did it, as the Star Wars soundtrack is nothing but a masterpiece. But, let’s move on with what this article concerns the most).
Once again, as you may have imagined, this homonym of the word score can also take a verbal form. We can rephrase the previous example in this way:
John Towner Williams scored the Star Wars saga.
What? The word score can also mean a number? Well, yes. As crazy as it may sound, this homonym of the word score is also valid. You may be wondering why (and if you aren’t, you should, actually). This is an adaptation of Old English. In short, a very similar word meant twenty and, while other numbers didn’t survive throughout time, well, this one did. Some trendy expressions that use the homonym of score to refer to number twenty are, for example:
Three scores of men were necessary to stop the riot at Wembley Stadium last week.
How many people were needed? Exactly, sixty. This expression works the same as a dozen to refer to twelve. The main difference is that, well, it relates to twenty.
Bonus tip: This expression was taken by the British to refer to twenty pounds. Something you may have heard in the past or will hear sometime in your life. So, once again, you’re welcome.
There is another meaning of score that relates to quantity. In this case, instead of meaning a specific number, it means a lot of whatever we are talking about. It doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t know the exact number. But it’s used to express that it was an impressive number.
Scores of people filled the malls looking for Tom Brady’s shirt after the Buccaneers won the 2021 Super Bowl.
So, in this article, we learned many of the different meanings of the word score. Remember that the best way to acquire and settle whatever new concept you know about is to put it into practice. Make it part of your everyday English. Write it. Say it. Whatever you want to do with it will benefit your goal of mastering the English language.
You must also remember that English is a helpful tool regarding your sports career. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates, news, and tips on English related to sports. You can also follow us on our social media to keep in touch with our daily events or news. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!