1. an expanse of open or cleared ground, especially a piece of land suitable or used for pasture or tillage.
  2. Sports.
    1. a piece of ground devoted to sports or contests; playing field.
    2. (in betting) all the contestants or numbers that are grouped together as one: to bet on the field in a horse race.
    3. (in football) the players on the playing ground.
    4. the area in which field events are held.
  3. Baseball.
    1. the team in the field, as opposed to the one at bat.
    2. the outfield.
  4. a sphere of activity, interest, etc., especially within a particular business or profession: the field of teaching; the field of Shakespearean scholarship.
  5. the area or region drawn on or serviced by a business or profession; outlying areas where business activities or operations are carried on, as opposed to a home or branch office: our representatives in the field.
  6. a job location remote from regular workshop facilities, offices, or the like.
  7. Military.
    1. the scene or area of active military operations.
    2. a battleground.
    3. a battle.
    4. area located away from the headquarters of a commander.
  8. an expanse of anything: a field of ice.
  9. any region characterized by a particular feature, resource, activity, etc.: a gold field.
  10. the surface of a canvas, shield, etc., on which something is portrayed: a gold star on a field of blue.
  11. (in a flag) the ground of each division.
  12. Physics. the influence of some agent, as electricity or gravitation, considered as existing at all points in space and defined by the force it would exert on an object placed at any point in space.Compare electric field, gravitational field, magnetic field.
  13. Also called field of view. Optics. the entire angular expanse visible through an optical instrument at a given time.
  14. Electricity. the structure in a generator or motor that produces a magnetic field around a rotating armature.
  15. Mathematics. a number system that has the same properties relative to the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as the number system of all real numbers; a commutative division ring.
  16. Photography. the area of a subject that is taken in by a lens at a particular diaphragm opening.
  17. Psychology. the total complex of interdependent factors within which a psychological event occurs and is perceived as occurring.
  18. Computers.
    1. one or more related characters treated as a unit and constituting part of a record, for purposes of input, processing, output, or storage by a computer: If the hours-worked field is blank or zero, the program does not write a check for that employee.
    2. (in a punch card) any number of columns regularly used for recording the same information.
  19. Television. one half of the scanning lines required to form a complete television frame. In the U.S., two fields are displayed in 1/30 second: all the odd-numbered lines in one field and all the even lines in the next field.Compare frame(def 9).
  20. Numismatics. the blank area of a coin, other than that of the exergue.
  21. Fox Hunting. the group of participants in a hunt, exclusive of the master of foxhounds and his staff.
  22. Heraldry. the whole area or background of an escutcheon.

verb (used with object)

  1. Baseball, Cricket.
    1. to catch or pick up (the ball) in play: The shortstop fielded the grounder and threw to first for the out.
    2. to place (a player, group of players, or a team) in the field to play.
  2. to place in competition: to field a candidate for governor.
  3. to answer or reply skillfully: to field a difficult question.
  4. to put into action or on duty: to field police cars to patrol an area.
  5. Informal. field-test.

verb (used without object) Baseball, Cricket.

  1. to act as a fielder; field the ball.
  2. to take to the field.


  1. Sports.
    1. of, taking place, or competed for on the field and not on the track, as the discus throw or shot put.
    2. of or relating to field events.
  2. Military. of or relating to campaign and active combat service as distinguished from service in rear areas or at headquarters: a field soldier.
  3. of or relating to a field.
  4. grown or cultivated in a field.
  5. working in the fields of a farm: field laborers.
  6. working as a salesperson, engineer, representative, etc., in the field: an insurance company’s field agents.
  1. in the field,
    1. in actual use or in a situation simulating actual use or application; away from a laboratory, workshop, or the like: The machine was tested for six months in the field.
    2. in contact with a prime source of basic data: The anthropologist is working in the field in Nigeria.
    3. within a given profession: The public knows little of him, but in the field he’s known as a fine mathematician.
  2. keep the field, to remain in competition or in battle; continue to contend: The troops kept the field under heavy fire.
  3. out in left field. left field(def 3).
  4. play the field, Informal.
    1. to vary one’s activities.
    2. to date a number of persons rather than only one: He wanted to play the field for a few years before settling down.
  5. take the field,
    1. to begin to play, as in football or baseball; go into action.
    2. to go into battle: They took the field at dawn.


  1. John . 1782–1837, Irish composer and pianist, lived in Russia from 1803: invented the nocturne


  1. an open tract of uncultivated grassland; meadowRelated adjective: campestral
  2. a piece of land cleared of trees and undergrowth, usually enclosed with a fence or hedge and used for pasture or growing cropsa field of barley
  3. a limited or marked off area, usually of mown grass, on which any of various sports, athletic competitions, etc, are helda soccer field
  4. an area that is rich in minerals or other natural resourcesa coalfield
  5. short for battlefield, airfield
  6. the mounted followers that hunt with a pack of hounds
    1. all the runners in a particular race or competitors in a competition
    2. the runners in a race or competitors in a competition excluding the favourite
  7. cricket the fielders collectively, esp with regard to their positions
  8. a wide or open expansea field of snow
    1. an area of human activitythe field of human knowledge
    2. a sphere or division of knowledge, interest, etchis field is physics
    1. a place away from the laboratory, office, library, etc, usually out of doors, where practical work is done or original material or data collected
    2. (as modifier)a field course
  9. the surface or background, as of a flag, coin, or heraldic shield, on which a design is displayed
  10. Also called: field of view the area within which an object may be observed with a telescope, microscope, etc
  11. physics
    1. See field of force
    2. a region of space that is a vector field
    3. a region of space under the influence of some scalar quantity, such as temperature
  12. maths a set of entities subject to two binary operations, addition and multiplication, such that the set is a commutative group under addition and the set, minus the zero, is a commutative group under multiplication and multiplication is distributive over addition
  13. maths logic the set of elements that are either arguments or values of a function; the union of its domain and range
  14. computing
    1. a set of one or more characters comprising a unit of information
    2. a predetermined section of a record
  15. television one of two or more sets of scanning lines which when interlaced form the complete picture
  16. obsolete the open countrybeasts of the field
  17. hold the field or keep the field to maintain one’s position in the face of opposition
  18. in the field
    1. militaryin an area in which operations are in progress
    2. actively or closely involved with or working on something (rather than being in a more remote or administrative position)
  19. lead the field to be in the leading or most pre-eminent position
  20. leave the field informal to back out of a competition, contest, etc
  21. take the field to begin or carry on activity, esp in sport or military operations
  22. play the field informal to disperse one’s interests or attentions among a number of activities, people, or objects
  23. (modifier) military of or relating to equipment, personnel, etc, specifically designed or trained for operations in the fielda field gun; a field army


  1. (tr) sport to stop, catch, or return (the ball) as a fielder
  2. (tr) sport to send (a player or team) onto the field to play
  3. (intr) sport (of a player or team) to act or take turn as a fielder or fielders
  4. (tr) military to put (an army, a unit, etc) in the field
  5. (tr) to enter (a person) in a competitioneach party fielded a candidate
  6. (tr) informal to deal with or handle, esp adequately and by making a reciprocal gestureto field a question

“to go out to fight,” 16c., from field (n.) in the specific sense of “battlefield” (Old English). The meaning “to stop and return the ball” is first recorded 1823, originally in cricket; figurative sense is from 1902. Related: Fielded; fielding.


Old English feld “plain, open land” (as opposed to woodland), also “a parcel of land marked off and used for pasture or tillage,” probably related to Old English folde “earth, land,” from Proto-Germanic *felthuz “flat land” (common West Germanic, cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian feld “field,” Old Saxon folda “earth,” Middle Dutch velt, Dutch veld Old High German felt, German Feld “field,” but not found outside it; Swedish fält, Danish felt are borrowed from German), from PIE *pel(e)-tu-, from root *pele- (2) “flat, to spread” (see plane (n.1)).

Finnish pelto “field” is believed to have been adapted from Proto-Germanic. The English spelling with -ie- probably is the work of Anglo-French scribes (cf. brief, piece). Collective use for “all engaged in a sport” (or, in horseracing, all but the favorite) is 1742; play the field “avoid commitment” (1936) is from notion of gamblers betting on other horses than the favorite. Field glasses attested by 1836.

  1. A distribution in a region of space of the strength and direction of a force, such as the electrostatic force near an electrically charged object, that would act on a body at any given point in that region. See also electric field magnetic field.
  2. The region whose image is visible to the eye or accessible to an optical instrument.
  3. A set of elements having two operations, designated addition and multiplication, satisfying the conditions that multiplication is distributive over addition, that the set is a group under addition, and that the elements with the exception of the additive identity (0) form a group under multiplication. The set of all rational numbers is a field.
    1. In a database, a space for a single item of information contained in a record.
    2. An interface element in a graphical user interface that accepts the input of text.

In addition to the idiom beginning with field

  • field day

also see:

  • cover the field
  • far afield
  • out in left field
  • play the field
  • take the field
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