Glossary of cue sports terms

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The following is a glossary of traditional English-language terms used in the three overarching cue sports disciplines: carom billiards referring to the various carom games played on a billiard table without pockets ; pool , which denotes a host of games played on a table with six pockets; and snooker , played on a large pocket table, and which has a sport culture unto itself distinct from pool. There are also games such as English billiards that include aspects of multiple disciplines.


Definitions and language

The term billiards is sometimes used to refer to all of the cue sports, to a specific class of them, or to specific ones such as English billiards; this article uses the term in its most generic sense unless otherwise noted.

The labels "British" and "UK" as applied to entries in this glossary refer to terms originating in the UK and also used in countries that were fairly recently part of the British Empire and/or are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, as opposed to US (and, often, Canadian) terminology. The terms "American" or "US" as applied here refer generally to North American usage. However, due to the predominance of US-originating terminology in most internationally competitive pool (as opposed to snooker), US terms are also common in the pool context in other countries in which English is at least a minority language, and US (and borrowed French) terms predominate in carom billiards. Similarly, British terms predominate in the world of snooker, English billiards, and blackball, regardless of the players' nationalities.

The term "blackball" is used in this glossary to refer to both blackball and eight-ball pool as played in the UK, as a shorthand. Blackball was chosen because it is less ambiguous ("eight-ball pool" is too easily confused with the international standardized "eight-ball"), and blackball is globally standardized by an International Olympic Committee-recognized governing body, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA); meanwhile, its ancestor, eight-ball pool, is largely a folk game, like North American bar pool , and to the extent that its rules have been codified, they have been done so by competing authorities with different rulesets. (For the same reason, the glossary's information on eight-ball, nine-ball, and ten-ball draws principally on the stable WPA rules, because there are many competing amateur leagues and even professional tours with divergent rules for these games.)

Foreign-language terms are generally not within the scope of this list, unless they have become an integral part of billiards terminology in English (e.g. massé ), or they are crucial to meaningful discussion of a game not widely known in the English-speaking world.


1 ball
Also the 1. The object ball numbered 1; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid yellow.
See the One-cushion billiards main article.
2 ball
Also the 2. The object ball numbered 2; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid blue. In some American snooker ball sets, the yellow ball is numbered 2, its point value.
See the One-pocket main article for the game.
3 ball

See the Three-ball main article for the game.

Also the 3. The object ball numbered 3; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid red. In some American snooker ball sets, the green ball is numbered 3, its point value.
See the Three-cushion billiards main article for the game.
4 ball

See the Four-ball billiards main article for the game.

Also the 4. The object ball numbered 4; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid purple or rarely pink. In some American snooker ball sets, the brown ball is numbered 4, its point value.
5 ball
Also the 5. The object ball numbered 5; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid orange. In some American snooker ball sets, the blue ball is numbered 5, its point value.
See the Five-pin billiards main article for the formerly Italian, now internationally standardized game; or Danish pin billiards for the five-pin traditional game of Denmark.
6 ball

See the Nine-ball § Derived games section for the game.

Also the 6. The object ball numbered 6; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid green. The 6 is the money ball (or game ball) in a game of six-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the remaining five object balls have been pocketed, or may be pocketed early to win the game so long as the lowest-numbered ball on the table is struck before the 6. In other games, such as eight-ball, the 6 is simply one of the regular object balls. In some American snooker ball sets, the pink ball is numbered 6, its point value.
7 ball

See the Seven-ball main article for the game.

Also the 7. The object ball numbered 7; in American-style pool ball sets, it is solid maroon, brown, or rarely tan. Some variants, for the seven-ball game, are brown with a black or white stripe. The 7 is the money ball (or game ball) in a game of seven-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the remaining six object balls have been pocketed, or may be pocketed early to win the game so long as the lowest-numbered ball on the table is struck before the 7. In other games, such as eight-ball, the 7 is simply one of the regular object balls. In some American snooker ball sets, the black ball is numbered 7, its point value.
8 ball
An 8 ball (with the cue ball behind it) 8-Ball.jpg
An 8 ball (with the cue ball behind it)

See the Eight-ball and Eight-ball pool (British variation) main articles for the games.

Also the 8. The object ball numbered 8; in both American- and British-style pool ball sets, it is solid black, though some of the latter use an unnumbered black ball. The 8 is the money ball (or game ball) in a game of eight-ball and related games. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the suit of seven object balls belonging to the player who is shooting for the 8. (Pocketing the 8 early is a loss of game—unless done on the break shot, in most rules variants.) In other games, such as nine-ball and straight pool, the 8 is simply another object ball. Due to its striking colouration and regular use as a money ball, it is commonly used as a symbol in popular culture.
9 ball

See the Nine-ball main article for the game

Also the 9. The object ball numbered 9; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped yellow. The 9 is the money ball (or game ball) in a game of nine-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the remaining eight object balls have been pocketed, or may be pocketed early to win the game so long as the lowest-numbered ball on the table is struck before the 9. In other games, such as eight-ball, the 9 is simply one of the regular object balls.
See the Goriziana main article for the game sometimes called nine-pins.
10 ball

See the Ten-ball main article for the game

Also the 10. The object ball numbered 10; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped blue. The 10 is the money ball (or game ball) in a game of ten-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the remaining nine object balls have been pocketed, or may be pocketed early to win the game so long as the lowest-numbered ball on the table is struck before the 10, and the 10 ball and pocket are called. In other games, such as eight-ball, the 10 is simply one of the regular object balls.
11 ball
Also the 11. The object ball numbered 11; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped red.
12 ball
Also the 12. The object ball numbered 12; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped purple or rarely pink
13 ball
Also the 13. The object ball numbered 13; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped orange.
14 ball
Also the 14. The object ball numbered 14; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped green.
15 ball
Also the 15. The object ball numbered 15; in American-style pool ball sets, it is striped maroon, brown, or rarely tan.
16-red clearance
In snooker, a total clearance in which the break starts with a free ball. The break includes potting a colour ball counting as a red and all 15 reds.


Used in snooker in reference to the position of the cue ball. It is above the object ball if it is off-straight on the baulk cushion side of the imaginary line for a straight pot (e.g. "he'll want to finish above the blue in order to go into the pink and reds"). It is also common to use the term high instead. [1]
1.   Gambling or the potential for gambling (US).
2.  Lively results on a ball, usually the cue ball, from the application of spin.
3.  Short for cue action.
Used with an amount to signify money added to a tournament prize fund in addition to the amount accumulated from entry fees (e.g. "$500 added"). [2]
ahead race
Also ahead session. A match format in which a player has to establish a lead of an agreed number of frames (games) in order to win (e.g. in a ten-ahead race, a player wins when she/he has won ten more racks than the opponent). [1] Contrast race [to].
aiming line
An imaginary line drawn from the desired path an object ball is to be sent (usually the center of a pocket) and the center of the object ball. [3]
To freeze a ball to a cushion; such a ball may be said to be anchored (British: tight). This term is largely obsolete balkline billiards jargon. [4]
anchor nurse
A type of nurse shot used in carom billiards games. With one object ball being anchored (frozen, British: tight) to a cushion and the second object ball just slightly away from the cushion, the cue ball is gently grazed across the face of both balls, freezing the away ball to the rail and moving the frozen ball away the same distance its partner was previously, in an identical but reversed configuration, in position to be struck again by the cue ball from the opposite side to repeat this pattern, back and forth. [4] Compare cradle cannon.
anchor space
A 7-by-14-inch (180 mm × 360 mm) box drawn on the table in balkline billiards where a balkline meets with the cushion that sets the area of the enclosed as part of both adjoining balk spaces. Originally 3.5 by 7 inches (8.9 cm × 17.8 cm) (and called Parker's box), it was introduced to combat the anchor nurse, and was increased to its current size to curtail the effectiveness of the chuck nurse, which was developed as a response to the original box. [1]
angle of incidence
The angle at which a ball approaches a cushion, as measured from the perpendicular to the cushion. [5] The phrase has been in use since as early as 1653. [1]
angle of reflection
The angle from which a ball rebounds off a cushion, as measured from the perpendicular to the cushion. [1] [5]
angled ball
In snooker and pool, a cue ball situated in the jaws of a pocket such that a/the ball-on cannot be struck directly. [1] [6] Compare corner-hooked.
The extent to which the cue ball curves as a result of a semi-massé or massé shot.

Also apex ball, apex of the triangle, apex of the diamond or apex of the rack.

The ball placed at the front of a group of racked object balls (i.e., toward the breaker and furthest from the racker), and in most games situated over the table's foot spot. [6]
around the table
In carom games, a shot in which in attempting to score, the cue ball contacts three or more cushions, usually including both short rails. [7]
around the houses
Used in snooker to describe the path that the cue ball must take into and out of baulk as a result of poor position play, specifically coming around the baulk colours off three or more cushions, normally on a shot on the blue to finish on a red as a result of finishing low on the blue.


Same as stake (verb). [1]
back cut
A cut shot in which if a line were drawn from the cue ball to the rail behind the targeted object ball, perpendicular to that rail, the object ball would lie beyond the line with respect to the pocket being targeted. [8]
Same as stakehorse.
back spin
Steve Davis plays a back-spin ball to prevent the cue ball from falling into the side pocket.

Also backspin, back-spin, backward spin. [1]

Same as draw.See illustration at spin.

Contrast top spin.
Chiefly British. Same as pocket.
A coarse woolen cloth used to cover billiard tables, usually green in colour. Sometimes called felt, based on a similarity in appearance, though very different in makeup. [1]
balance point
The point, usually around 18 inches from the bottom of a cue, at which the cue will balance when resting on one hand. [1] [6]

Also balk space.

1.  An area defined on a billiard table by one or more balklines. In the eponymous game of balkline billiards, there are eight balks defined by perpendicular balklines, in which only a set number of caroms may be scored before at least one ball must leave the area. [9] In the earlier (and short-lived) "champions' game", there were four triangular balks, one at each corner, defined by single diagonal balklines. Not to be confused with baulk, but see second definition.
2.  An area defined on a billiard table, in games such as pool, snooker, English billiards and bagatelle, by a single balkline (drawn or imaginary) that runs across the table near the head (bottom) end; exactly where depends upon table type and size. This balk is where the cue ball is placed in lagging for lead, for making the opening break shot, and sometimes for other purposes, depending upon the game. This usage of "balk" is strictly technical, and rarely used in practice. In pool, this area is called the kitchen and is divided from the rest of the table by the head string, while in snooker, English billiards and blackball it is the somewhat differently sized and delimited baulk, defined by the baulk line. On baulk tables, which have a "D" inside baulk, and on pool tables with a break box in the kitchen, the actual area from which to shoot is even smaller than the baulk or kitchen, respectively – a balk within the balk.

Also balk line.

1.  A line drawn horizontally from a point on a billiard table's rail to the corresponding point on the opposite rail, thus defining a region (a balk). In the eponymous balkline billiards there are four balklines, drawn parallel to and typically 14 or 18 inches from the cushions of the table, dividing it into nine compartments or divisions, of which the outside eight are the balks, in which only a set number of caroms may be scored before at least one ball must leave the area. [9] Not to be confused with baulk line, though the concepts and etymologies are related. See balk, second definition.
2.  Formerly, in "the champions' game", a line drawn diagonally from a long to a short rail at the corners of the table, defining a triangular balk space at each.
3.  A type of carom billiards game, also called balkline billiards, created to eliminate very high runs in straight rail that relied on repetitive nurse shots. [9]
Same as call-shot.
Also cue ball in-hand. The option of placing the cue ball anywhere on the table prior to shooting, in a game of pool. Usually only available to a player when the opposing player has committed some type of foul under a particular game's rules [1] [10] (cf. the free throw in basketball by way of comparison). See also in-hand for the snooker definition. A common variation, used in games such as straight pool and often in bar pool, is ball-in-hand "behind the head string", also "behind the line" or "from the kitchen", meaning the ball-in-hand option is restricted to placement anywhere behind the head string, i.e., in the area of the table known as the kitchen.

Not always hyphenated. Plural: balls-on. [11] Also on[-]ball.

Any legally strikeable ball on the table in snooker and generally British terminology. [7] For example, in blackball, [11] if a player is playing yellows, any yellow ball (or any solid, from 1 to 7, if using a solids-and-stripes ball set) can be the ball-on until they are all potted, in which case the 8 ball is the ball-on. In snooker, at the beginning of a player's turn, unless all are already potted, any red ball can be the ball-on. [1] Compare object ball.
ball rack
1.  Same as rack (noun), sense 1
2.  Same as scoring rack
3.  A wall rack designed exclusively for storing balls
ball return
A collection bin mounted below the foot end of a table, to which balls potted in any pocket will return by means of gravity-assisted gutters or troughs running from each pocket opening to the bin; these are the ball-return mechanism, which may be internal to the table or an external gutter system. Ball returns have been in use since at least the 1700s. Pockets that simply collect balls are known as drop pockets. [1] A table without a ball return may be called a "drop pocket table", while a table featuring a ball return may be called a "gully table". [12] Coin-operated bar tables have ball-return mechanisms that separate the cue ball from the object balls so that the object balls are captured when pocketed until the game ends, then released when paid for again, while the cue ball is continually returned for continued play after scratches. This type of table can use a variety of methods to distinguish the cue ball from object balls including the Magnetic cue ball, the dense ceramic "rock" and the oversized "grapefruit" ball. Ball return mechanisms have also been devised that use a smaller, lighter cue ball, instead of a magnetic or heavier one. There are tables that use optical sensors to distinguish a standard cue ball from object balls. [13] Some of them are also setup to return the 8 ball as well, so that pocketing it on the break does not end the game.
A derogatory term for a recreational or beginning player who "bangs" the balls without any thought for position nor attempt to control the cue ball; also a reference to the predilection of beginners to often hit the cue ball far harder than necessary. [14] Compare British potter.
1.  Same as cushion.
2.  Same as bank shot.
bank shot
Also bank. Shot in which an object ball is driven to one or more rails prior to being pocketed (or in some contexts, prior to reaching its intended target; not necessarily a pocket). Sometimes "bank" is conflated to refer to kick shots as well, and in the UK it is often called a double. [1] [6]
A rule variant common in bar pool versions of eight-ball, in which the 8-ball must be pocketed on a bank shot (generally this would either be accomplished via a bank shot proper or a kick shot); shooting the 8 straight in is a loss of game. Players may agree before the game begins to invoke this rule, or one player may challenge another player (who might accept or refuse) to conclude the game in this manner after it is already under way. Playing bank-the-8 can be considered rude if many other players are waiting to use the table, since it often makes the game last considerably longer. Often on bar tables three scratches while shooting for the 8 determines a loss. The same with last-pocket.
bar player
Also bar league player. A player that predominantly plays in bars/pubs, or is in a bar-based pool league. Often used pejoratively by pool hall players to refer to a perceived lesser skill level of such players. See also bar pool, bar table.
bar pool

Also bar rules, pub pool, tavern pool.

Pool, almost always a variant of eight-ball, that is played by bar players on a bar table. Bar pool has rules that vary from region to region, sometimes even from venue to venue in the same city, especially in the U.S. Wise players thus ensure understanding of and agreement to the rules before engaging in a money game under bar rules. Typical differences between bar pool and tournament eight-ball are the lack of ball-in-hand after a foul, the elimination of a number of fouls, and (with numbered ball sets) the requirement that most aspects of a shot be called (including cushions and other object balls to be contacted) not just the target ball and pocket. Bar pool has evolved into this "nitpicky" version principally to make the games last longer, since bar pool is typically played on coin-operated tables that cost money per-game rather than per-hour. Competitive league pool played on bar tables, however, usually uses international, national or local/regional league rules, and is not what is usually meant by "bar pool". Not to be confused with the game of bar billiards.
bar table

Also bar box, pub table, tavern table, coin-operated table, coin-op table.

A distinctive size of pool table found in bars, pubs, or taverns as well as venues such as family entertainment centers, arcades and bowling alleys. These are smaller than the full-size tables found in pool halls. While typical professional and competition tables are 9 ft × 4+12 ft (2.7 m × 1.4 m), bar tables are typically 7 ft × 3+12 ft (2.1 m × 1.1 m). In bars they are almost always coin-operated. Another distinguishing factor is the cue ball; these tables capture pocketed object balls to remove them from play, but selectively return a scratched cue ball. The cue balls historically were differently sized or of different density so they could be mechanically separated. Because this changes the mechanics of the cue ball, these cue balls do not play as competition cue balls, and they are therefore deprecated by aficionados. However, modern bar tables typically make use of a magnetic layer inside a regulation size and weight cue ball paired with a magnet mechanism within the table's ball return system that separates out the cue ball without requiring cue ball characteristics that affect play. [15] Systems that use optical sensors to distinguish the cue ball have also been introduced. [13] Pool hall players complain also that the cloth used on bar tables is often greatly inferior (in particular that it is "slow" and that english does not "take" enough), and often find that the cushions are not as responsive as they are used to. [1]
Also baulk area, baulk end. In snooker, English billiards, and blackball, [11] the area of the bottom of the table that is between the baulk line and the baulk cushion, which houses the "D" and is somewhat analogous to the kitchen in American-style pool. [1] [16]
baulk colour
In snooker, any of the three colour balls that get spotted on the baulk line. [1] The left-to-right green, brown and yellow ball order is the subject of the mnemonic phrase "God bless you". [17]
baulk cushion
In snooker, the cushion opposite the top cushion and bounded by the yellow and green pockets. Also known as the bottom cushion. [1]
baulk line
Also baulk-line. [18] A straight line drawn 29 inches (73.66 cm) from the face of the baulk cushion on a standard 6 × 12 foot snooker table. [1] Its positioning varies on other sizes of tables. Baulk lines may also be drawn on English billiards tables, and even British-style pool tables. The baulk line is an integral part of the "D". The baulk line's position is always determined by measurement from the baulk cushion, in contrast to the similar but different head string, the position of which is determined by the diamonds. Not to be confused with balkline.
baulk pocket
In snooker, a corner pocket located at either end of the baulk cushion. The yellow pocket and green pocket are both baulk pockets.
baulk rail
Same as bottom rail (UK), head rail (US).
baulk spot

Also middle spot in baulk, baulk line spot, middle of the baulk-line spot, etc. [19] [18]

The Spot, usually unmarked because of its obviousness at the intersection of the baulk line and long string. As such, it is also the middle of the flat side of the "D". In snooker, same as brown spot . [20] [18] Compare head spot.
The flat surface of a table, exclusive of the cushions. [1] [16] The bed is covered with billiard cloth like the cushions. The playing area of the table consists of the bed except where the cushion overhangs the bed, i.e. it is all of the bed between the cushion noses. Quality beds are made of smooth-ground slate, though very cheap tables may use particle board or plywood. The earliest beds were simply the surfaces of the wooden tables on which the game was played.
be in stroke
See In stroke.
Used in snooker in reference to the position of the cue ball. It is "below" the object ball if it is off-straight on the top cushion side of the imaginary line for a straight pot (e.g. she will want to finish below the black in order to go into the reds). This may seem counterintuitive; see above for an explanation.

Also bigs, big balls, big ones.

In eight-ball, to be shooting the striped suit (group) of balls (9 through 15); "you're big, remember", "you're big balls" or "I've got the big ones". [1] Compare stripes, yellows, high, overs; contrast little.Not to be confused with the carom billiards concept of a big ball.
big ball
A carom billiards metaphor, it refers to an object ball positioned and being approached in such a manner that a near miss will rebound off a cushion and still score. It is as if the ball were larger than normal, making it easier to contact. Normally a ball near a rail is a big ball, but only if being approached from an angle and if all the prerequisite rails have already been contacted. Not to be confused with the eight-ball term "the big balls", referring to the higher-numbered striped balls. In older British usage the concept was referred to as "large ball". [1] See also "big pocket".
big pocket
A pool and occasionally snooker term (inherited from carom billiards by way of "big ball", above), it is a metaphor for a shot that is very difficult to miss pocketing for any of a number of reasons, most commonly: either the object ball is positioned such that a near miss on one side of it will likely cause the cue ball to rebound off the rail into the object ball and pocket it anyway; or another ball is positioned such that if the target ball does not go straight in, it is still likely to go in off the other ball in a kiss. It is as if the pocket, for this one shot, had become larger. The term can also refer to the angle of shot toward a pocket, especially a side pocket; the pocket is said to be "bigger", for example, on a shot that is only a 5-degree angle away from straight on, than on a 45-degree angle shot which is much more likely to hit one of the cushion points and bounce away.

Also billiard shot.

1.  Any shot in which the cue ball is caromed off an object ball to strike another object ball (with or without contacting cushions in the interim). [1]
2.  In certain carom billiards games such as three-cushion, a successful attempt at making a scoring billiard shot under the rules for that game (such as contacting three cushions with the cue ball while executing the billiard). A failed attempt at scoring would, in this context, not be called "a billiard" by players of such games even if it satisfied the first, more general definition. [7]
1.  In the US, Canada and in many different countries and languages (under various spellings) as well as historically, generally refers to all cue sports;
2.  Sometimes refers to just carom games as opposed to pool (especially in the US and Canada);
3.  In British terminology, chiefly refers to the game known in the rest of the world as English billiards.
billiards glasses
Billiards glasses Billiards glasses.jpg
Billiards glasses

Also pool spectacles, snooker specs, etc.

Eyeglasses specially made for cue sports, with tall lenses, set unusually high, so that when the head is lowered over the cue stick for aiming, with the nose pointing downward, the eyes can still look through the lenses instead of over them. They are especially popular among snooker players (notably, 1985 World Champion Dennis Taylor).
black ball

Also the black.

1.  In snooker, the highest-value colour ball on the table, being worth seven points. [1] It is placed on the black spot. [21] In some snooker ball sets, it is numbered "7" on its surface.
2.  Chiefly British: The 8 ball in a pool set, applying both to the casino balls typically used in blackball pool as well as the solids-and-stripes used in other pool games, such American-style eight-ball, nine-ball and straight pool. [11] In some casino ball sets, the black ball is actually striped black on white.
black spot
The marked spot on a snooker table at which the black ball is placed. On tournament-size tables, it is 12+34 inches (324 mm) from the top cushion, on the long string. [21] That is, it is between the top cushion and the pyramid.
1.  An unfinished bottom half of a two piece cue (the butt section) with the splice completed, but the cue not yet turned on a lathe to produce the final shape, and certain features having not yet been added such as a wrap, joint mechanism, butt cap, bumper and inlays. [22]
2.  An unsuccessful inning at the table. Also known as a duck egg, goose egg, cipher or naught. [22]
blue ball

Also the blue(s).

1.  In snooker, the colour ball worth five points, [1] placed on the blue spot in the centre of the table. [21] In some ball sets, it is numbered "5" on its surface.
2.  In blackball pool, a common alternate colour for the reds group. [23]
blue spot
The marked spot on a snooker table at which the blue ball is placed. Regardless of table size, it is at the lengthwise and widthwise centre of the table (i.e. it is the same as the centre spot. [21]
body english
The useless but common practice of contorting one's body while a shot is in play, usually in the direction one wishes a ball or balls to travel, as if in the vain hope that this will influence the balls' trajectories; the term is considered humorous. [1] See also english.

Also shake bottle, pea bottle, pill bottle, tally bottle, kelly bottle.

The bottle used in various games to hold numbered peas, it is employed to assign random spots to players in a roster (such as in a tournament), or to assign random balls to players of a game (such as in kelly pool and bottle pool). [1] [7]
1.  Chiefly British: The half of the table from which the break shot is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in North America, where this end of the table is called the head. Contrast top.See also baulk.
2.  Chiefly American: Exactly the opposite of the above – the foot end of the table. No longer in common usage.
3.  Short for bottom spin, i.e. same as screw (British), draw (American).
bottom cushion
Chiefly British: The cushion on the bottom rail. Also known as the baulk cushion, especially in snooker. Compare head cushion (U.S.); contrast top cushion.
bottom rail
Chiefly British: The short rail at the bottom of the table. Traditionally this is the rail on which the table manufacturer's logo appears. Also known as the baulk rail, especially in snooker. Compare head rail (U.S.); contrast top rail.
bottom spin

Also bottomspin, bottom-spin, bottom.

Same as back spin, i.e. screw (UK), draw (US).Contrast top spin.See illustration at spin.
A type of bridge formed between the thumb and forefinger, creating a loop for the cue to pass through. Principally used in carom billiards, the term is French for 'curled'. [24]
1.  Also break shot or break off, as a noun. Typically describes the first shot in most types of billiards games. In carom games it describes the first point attempt, as shot from an unvarying cue ball and object balls placement; in many pool games it describes the first shot, which is used to separate the object balls that have been racked together; [1]
2.  A series of consecutive pots by a player during a single inning. Most often applied in snooker and English billiards, e.g., "The player had a break of 89 points." [1] [7] (Chiefly British; compare US run .) See also maximum break and century break.
break and dish
Same as break and run (chiefly British).
break and run
Also break and run out.Chiefly American: In pool games, when a player breaks the racked object balls, pockets at least one ball on the break, and commences to run out the remaining object balls without the opponent getting a visit at the table. Hyphenated when used as an adjective or compound noun instead of a verbal phrase. See also run the table, rack and run.
break ball
In straight pool, the last object ball left on a table before the remaining fourteen balls must be racked so the player at the table may continue their run. It is called the "break ball" because it is common for players to try to leave this ball in such a position that they may easily pot it and billiard off of it to break open the rack of fourteen balls and continue their run.
break box
Diagram showing the break box and its relation to the kitchen area and head string Nine-ball break box diagram.png
Diagram showing the break box and its relation to the kitchen area and head string
In European Pocket Billiard Federation (EPBF) nine-ball, the break box is a zone in the "kitchen" of the head (British: bottom) of the table, from which the break shot must be taken with the cue ball. [25] [26] The break box consists of the middle 50% of the kitchen area, delimited latitudinally by the head rail (British: bottom rail) and head string (not the baulk line), and longitudinally by two parallel lines drawn (on the cloth, or more often imaginarily) from the head rail diamonds that are closest to the head corner pockets, out to the head string (see illustration to the right) on either side. This departure from WPA World Standardised Rules defeats the common break-from-the-side-rail technique for pocketing the 9 ball to win the game on the break; while 9 ball breaks are still possible, they are much more difficult under this rule. [25] This EPBF Euro-Tour requirement was added in 2008 to the Europe vs. US all-star team event, the Mosconi Cup, but has not otherwise been seen much by non-Europeans as of 2011.
break down one's cue
To take one's two-piece cue stick apart. When done before a game's conclusion, it may indicate that the game is conceded. [1] Different leagues have different rules on this matter.
Either the player's hand or a mechanical bridge used to support the shaft end of the cue stick during a shot. Also the particular hand formation used for this purpose (there are many). [1] [7]
bridge hand
The hand used by a player as a bridge during a normal shot that does not involve a mechanical bridge. The bridge hand is usually a player's non-dominant hand. [1]
brown ball
Also the brown. In snooker, the highest-value baulk colour, worth four points. [27] It is placed on the brown spot. [27] [21] In some (especially American) snooker ball sets, it is numbered "4" on its surface.
brown spot
The spot (often not marked) on a snooker table at which the brown ball is placed. Regardless of table size, it is the middle point of the baulk line. [27] [18] I.e., it is the same as the baulk spot. [18] The left-to-right order of the green, brown and yellow balls is the subject of the mnemonic phrase "God bless you". [17]
The bumper on the bottom of a cue, usually made from rubber, which insulates the butt cap from contact with the floor and greatly reduces noise. The bumper was first patented in 1880. [1]
1.  To seal the pores of a wooden cue's shaft by rubbing vigorously with some material. Leather is commonly employed for the task, as is paper money.
2.  To similarly vigorously rub the edge of a cue tip (especially a new one) to fortify it against mushrooming and ensure that it is perfectly flush with the ferrule.
3.  To smooth out minor dents in the shaft with a rigid burnisher.
1.  A pad, usually of leather, used to burnish (seal the wood pores of) a cue shaft.
2.  A rigid tip tool used to finish and harden the sides of a new cue tip.
3.  A shaft maintenance tool, most commonly a cylindrical glass rod, used for smoothing minor nicks in the shaft. This is sometimes done after swelling the wood at the nick site with some moist application.
bushka rings
Named after their innovator, legendary cuemaker George Balabushka, bushka rings are decorative bands of material incorporated into pool cues, commonly just above the wrap area, in the form of ebony and ivory blocks, or sometimes other materials, alternating in a checked pattern. [28]
business, doing
Collusion between matchplay opponents who prearrange the winner of a match on which other people's money is wagered, in order to guarantee a payday. [1]
The bottom portion of a pool cue which is gripped by a player's hand. [1] [7]
butt cap
A protective cap mounted on the end of the butt of a cue.
A point bead on a scoring string. [29]


A players' auction at a pool tournament. Each player is called and players and spectators bid on the player. The highest bidder(s) pays their bid to the calcutta, and by doing so invest in that player's success. If a player wins or places in the tournament, those who "bought" the player receive a percentage of the total calcutta payout, usually tracking the percentage payout of the tournament prize fund. Typically, players have the option of purchasing half of themselves when the high bid is won by a third party. Like english and scotch doubles, usually not capitalized.
Any instance of a player having to say what they are about to do. For example, in straight pool a player must call the pocket in which a ball is intended to be potted. More formal terms, used in rule books and instructional materials, include designate and nominate. Contrast fish, slop.

Also called-safe

Applies specifically to games that enforce "call-pocket/call-safe" rules, which require the player to either call the ball and pocket, or call a safety on every shot. After a legal shot, where a called ball is not pocketed as designated, the incoming player has the option to pass the shot back to the player who missed the called shot. If a player calls "safe", then after a legal shot, the incoming player must accept the next shot, and may not pass the shot back to the player who called "safe". [30] A call-shot/call-safe nine-ball example: Player A calls the ball-on, the 3 ball in this case, in the corner pocket but misses the shot. The cue ball rolls down table and comes to rest behind the 5 ball leaving no clear path to the 3 ball for the incoming player B. Since player A did not call "safe", incoming player B may elect to pass the shot back to player A (who must shoot).

Also called-shot; call-pocket or called-pocket.

Describes any game in which during normal play a player must call the ball to be hit and the intended pocket; "eight-ball is a call-shot game." [7] Sometimes referred to as "call[ed]-pocket", "ball-and-pocket rules", etc., to distinguish it from the common North American bar pool practice of requiring every aspect of shots to be called, such as caroms, kicks, and cushions to be contacted (this is sometimes also ambiguously referred to as "call-shot", but more accurately termed "call-everything" or "call-it-all"). Commonly in bar rules terminology, call-shot indicates how the shot will be made as compared to call-pocket which means simply that the ball must go into that pocket, details unnecessary. Though games with called shots technically require all shots to be called, obvious shots are seldom actually called, though such implied called shots must still be made. See also gentlemen's call.
called ball
The ball designated by a player to be pocketed on a shot. [7]
called pocket
The pocket designated by a player to which a ball is to be shot. [7]
British/Australian and sometimes Canadian term for carom. Formerly (19th century) sometimes spelled canon. [31]

Also carambola.

1.  The red object ball in carom billiards games. The term is thought to be derived from an orange-coloured, tropical Asian fruit, called a carambola in English, Spanish, and several other languages, in turn from karambal in the Marathi language of India. [1] [32]
2.  A general-purpose term for carom billiards games.
3.  (Obsolete.) Alternative name for the game of straight rail.
4.  A carom shot.
Short for tournament card. [29]

Not to be confused with the disk-flicking traditional board game carrom, which is sometimes played with a small cue stick.

1.  Carom came into use in the 1860s and is a shortening of carambola, which was earlier used to describe the red object ball used in many billiards games. [1] In modern usage, the most general meaning of the word refers to any type of strike and rebound, [33] (a carambole) off a cushion or especially a ball.
2.  More specifically, short for a carom shot, a cannon in British terminology, in which a point is scored in carom billiards games by careening the cue ball into the two object balls. [7]
3.  In pocket games as a general class, carom or carom shot is sometimes used more loosely, between the above two definitions, to refer to clipping an object ball with the cue ball to attempt to send either or both to desirable locations, not necessarily scoring in the process. In games in which pocketing the cue ball is a goal (e.g. Russian pyramid), carom can refer to sending the cue ball into a pocket after contacting an object ball (called a losing hazard in English billiards, it nevertheless scores points; but it is a foul in snooker, called an in-off, and in pool, called a scratch).
4.  Short for carom billiards, as in "I do better at carom than at pool." Sometimes pluralized in this sense as caroms.
carom billiards

Main article: Carom billiards

One of the main classes of cue sports, possibly the oldest, and certainly the dominant competitive form until well into the 20th century. It is played on a table without pockets, and scoring is generally done by driving a cue ball into contact with one object ball, then having the cue ball contact one or more cushions before contacting another object ball; however, there are numerous variations, some of which involve additional objects, such as upright pins as targets or hazards. Carom balls are usually larger than pool balls, and most often supplied in sets of three, though some games such as yotsudama require four. Historically the most popular carom games in the modern era were straight rail and cushion caroms, followed by balkline billiards, in turn supplanted by three-cushion billiards which remains a major competitive world sport and is the dominant cue sport in many countries. Some games, such as English billiards, are hybrids between carom and pocket billiards.
See lemon and sandbag.

Not to be confused with carom billiards.

Carrom is a table-top game of India, sometimes played with a small cue stick though more often with the fingers, in which small disks are slid on a game board to knock other disks into pockets cut into the corners of the board. It is ancestral to several other games, including novuss, pichenotte, pitchnut, crokinole, and Chapayev. Its historical relationship to billiards games is unclear.
casino balls
A set of pool balls divided into suits (groups) of red and yellow balls (typically unnumbered, aside from the black 8-ball) instead of stripes and solids. Most often used for the game of blackball (British-style eightball pool).
catch a stroke
See Stroke, catch a.
centre spot
Also center spot. The spot (usually unmarked, except in snooker) [21] at the geometric center of the bed of the table. [7] It lies at the intersection of the center string and long string. In snooker, it is more commonly known as the blue spot [21] Uncommonly it is also called the middle spot.
centre string
Also center string. The (usually unmarked) line bisecting the centers of the two long rails (and of the side [Brit.: centre] pockets if any) and the center spot. It thus runs widthwise (i.e. the short way) across the center of the table. Its intersection with the long string, running lengthwise down the middle of the table, defines the position of the center spot.
centre pocket
A player with her bridge hand close to the centre pocket Youth-centre-girl-billiards-wallpaper-preview.jpg
A player with her bridge hand close to the centre pocket
In the UK, one of the two pockets one either side of a pool, snooker or English billiards table halfway up the long rails. They are cut shallower than corner pockets because they have a 180 degree aperture, instead of 90 degrees. Also sometimes called a middle pocket. These terms are not generally used in the US, where side pocket prevails.

Also century break.

In snooker, English billiards and other British usage, a break of 100 points or more, which requires potting at least 25 balls consecutively, in snooker, but can be earned via a combination of scoring techniques in English billiards, etc. A century also means scoring 100+ points in a single turn in straight pool. A century of centuries is the achievement of 100 or more century breaks in a career, a feat few players have performed to date. See also double century.
A powdered substance placed on a cue's tip to increase its friction and thereby decrease slippage between the tip and cue ball. Cue "chalk" is not chalk (calcium carbonate), but a compound of silica and aluminium oxide. Chalk is sold in compressed, dyed (commonly blue) cubes wrapped on five sides with a paper label, and is applied (properly) in a manner similar to lipstick on the mouth. Chalk is essential to shots involving spin; failure to use it frequently during a game is likely to lead to miscuing. [34] Modern cue chalk was co-invented by pro player William A. Spinks and engineer William Hoskins. [35] [36] See also talc, often incorrectly referred to as "hand chalk".
chasing one's money
The inability of some players to stop gambling once they have lost money because they "have" to get their money back.
cheat the pocket
To aim at an object ball such that it will enter one side or the other, rather than the center, of a pocket (and possibly striking the facing of the pocket then rebounding into the pocket). This permits the cue ball to strike the object ball at a different contact point than the most obvious one. Cheating the pocket is employed for position play, to allow a ball to pass another partially obscuring the path to the pocket, and to prevent scratches on dead-straight shots in cases where draw is not desirable (or may not be dependable, e.g. because of distance from the pocket or smash-through). [37] The amount of pocket cheatability available varies widely by game, due to equipment differences. Pool has wide and thus very "cheatable" pockets, while snooker and Russian pyramid have pockets barely wide enough to admit a ball and therefore little room for error or for pocket-cheating.
check side
Also checkside or check. A type of spin imparted to the cue ball to make it rebound off a cushion at a shallower angle than it would if the spin had not been used. Normally played when the natural angle is no good to the player for the next shot. [38]
Sometimes known as a "Chesney Allen", a slight indentation in the table's slate which can add behavioral aspects to any ball passing over it. Tables containing a chesney are legal for match play, but are generally avoided by serious and professional players.
Chinese snooker
A Chinese snooker on the red ball Chinese Snooker.png
A Chinese snooker on the red ball
A situation where the cue ball is directly in front of another ball in the line of the shot such that the player is hampered by it, having to bridge over it awkwardly with the likelihood of a foul looming if the object ball is inadvertently touched. [39] The term is most common in the game of snooker but is also used in US parlance.
chuck nurse
Known as a rocking cannon in British terminology. A type of nurse used in carom billiards games. With one object ball frozen (British: tight) to a cushion and the second object ball a few inches away from the cushion, the cue ball is gently rebounded off the frozen ball, not moving it, but with just enough speed to meet the other object ball, which rocks in place but does not change position. Developed to thwart the restrictions emplaced by the Parker's box. [40] [41]
To commit errors while shooting, especially at the money ball, due to pressure. [42] See also dog, one-stroke.
cinch a ball
To play a shot with the stroke and speed that makes it easiest to pocket the object ball, even at the expense of sacrificing position. [8]
cinch a pocket
To maneuver a ball on a shot so that it will be favorably positioned for later play into a particular pocket, even at the expense of sacrificing position or the inning to achieve that result. [8]
cinch position
To play a shot using a more difficult application of stroke and speed to achieve a certain desired position for the next shot, even at the expense of or sharply increasing the likelihood of a miss. [8]
1.  Chiefly British. Describing a pot that goes straight into the pocket without touching either knuckle.
2.  Chiefly American. Describing a shot in bar pool: the pocketing of an object ball in a manner such that the target object ball does not kiss any other object ball, and is not banked, kicked, caromed, or combo'd in, and without double-kissing, though it may hit the knuckles, and depending upon local bar-rules may be allowed to contact either of the cushions, not just at the knuckle, that run into the target pocket. Usage example: "The 7 in that corner, clean". Usage can be narrower, to indicate clean other than as already specified, e.g. "bank the 7 in that corner, clean".
1.  Sufficient space to legally execute a shot, without a foul (fault), e.g. from striking a ball that is not on. Usage examples: "I wonder if I really have clearance for the 8"; "I bet you can't clear the 6 and make that shot." Can apply to any shot situation, including vertically: "a long jump shot that has to clear three balls."
2.  In snooker and British blackball, the successful potting of all object balls-on in a single frame. A player is said to have "cleared up" or to have "cleared the table". Also, if a snooker player compiles a break consisting of all 15 reds with colours, then the colours in sequence, this is known as a "total clearance". Compare break and run.
3.  A type of maneuver, the clearance shot or clearing shot, in which the cue ball ball is used to move one or more balls out of the way (directly or some by subsequent impact) then continue on to a desired destination. E.g., in a game of nine-ball, if the 1 and the 7 were clustered together along a cushion with the 9 behind them near a pocket, and the cue ball could strike the 1 full face with a result of the 1 heading off the 7 toward the top rail and the 7 rebounding quickly across the table from the cushion, the cue ball, with top spin could retain enough post-impact momentum to continue forward and pocket the 9 as long as both the 1 and the 7 were cleared out the way first. In a game like eight-ball, a clearance shot might also be used at the end of an inning to move some problem balls that are blocking an otherwise easy run, and leave the cue ball in a safe position, in hopes of having a better layout to work with in the next inning. Tickie shots are among the most common clearance approaches, especially for very short distances of intended cue ball travel past the initial contact. "Clearance" is essentially the opposite of "gather", though the latter term is largely confined to carom billiards.
Phenomenon in which two balls, (usually the cue ball and an object ball) have some foreign material – typically often residual cue-tip chalk or dirt picked up from unbrushed cloth – between the balls at the point of contact, resulting in the struck object ball being thrown offline from the expected trajectory, and often also affecting the post-impact behavior of the cue ball. Cling is an exaggerated form of throw, caused by momentary but unusually gripping friction imparted by the chalk or other residue. Also known as skid, or in the UK, kick (sense 2). A typical precaution against cling is to ask for the cue ball and/or object ball to be cleaned by the referee in order to remove chalk that is already on the ball prior to the shot; and (including in non-refereed games) players cleaning the cue ball personally after gaining ball-in-hand. The table cloth can also be brushed between matches. When conditions seem ripe for clings (e.g. visibly dirty balls) some skilled players resort to pre-emptively using (and compensating for) gearing outside english, a general anti-throw technique. However, no precaution can ward against cling resulting from chalk transferred from the cue tip to the cue ball during a single shot. Coincidental cling can therefore cause unpredictable play and occasionally lead to rudimentary shots being missed at even the highest levels of the game. [43] [44] "Cling" (and derived words like "clung", "clinger", "clinging", etc.) may be used as a mass noun, less commonly as a count noun, as a verb, and rarely as an adjective ("cling is annoying", "two clings in one frame", "they clung", "unintentional cling shot", respectively). See kick for snooker-specific notes.See also dead ball, sense 2.
closed bridge
Also loop bridge. A bridge formed by the hand where a finger (normally the index finger) is curved over the cue stick and the other fingers are spread on the cloth providing solid support for the cue stick's direction. A closed bridge is less common in snooker play than in other games. [45] Compare Open bridge.
The baize cloth covering the tables playing surface and rails, usually made from wool or a wool-nylon blend. In use since the 15th century, cloth is traditionally green-coloured, chosen for its evocation of grass. Sometimes cloth is improperly referred to as "felt." The properties of the cloth used to cover a table, as well as environmental conditions that can affect it—notably humidity, the degree it has been stretched when installed, and its level of cleanness—have a profound effect on play. [46] See also fast.
cloth speed
Same as table speed.
Two or more object balls that are touching or are close together. Rarer uses of the term include the intended action of a gather shot, and a run of points. [46]
cocked-hat double
A term applied especially in snooker for a type of double off three cushions, e.g. around the baulk colours and into a centre pocket. Such a shot is very difficult to make and would not normally be played as anything more than a shot for nothing.
The protector of the joint of the cue on the joint end of the butt and shaft (i.e., the butt collar and shaft collar respectively). Most modern cues use collars of steel and/or other materials, but carom billiards cues usually have a collarless wood-on-wood joint, [47] as do "sneaky petes".
collision-induced side spin
Side spin imparted to an object ball by the friction from the hit of the cue ball during a cut shot.
collision-induced throw
Same as cut-induced throw.
colour ball
A complete set of snooker balls with 15 red balls, six coloured balls and a cue ball Set of Snookerballs.png
A complete set of snooker balls with 15 red balls, six coloured balls and a cue ball

Also coloured ball(s), colour(s); American spelling color sometimes also used.

1.  In snooker, any of the object balls that are not reds. A colour ball must be potted after each red in the continuation of a break, and are re-spotted until the reds run out, after which the colours must be potted in their order:

Although the full term includes "ball" after the colour, they are most commonly referred to with the omission of "ball", just stating the colour (e.g. "he's taken five blacks with reds so far").
2.  In blackball, a generic, collective term for the red and yellow groups of object balls, corresponding to the (originally American, but used much more widely today) solids and stripes, respectively. [11]
Also combination shot, combo. Any shot in which the cue ball contacts an object ball, which in turn hits one or more additional object balls (which in turn may hit yet further object balls) to send the last-hit object ball to an intended place, usually a pocket. [7] In the UK this is often referred to as a plant.
In snooker, when a player offers the frame to their opponent, even though balls remain on the table. A player typically concedes when they require snookers and have no realistic prospect of winning. An accepted concession formally concludes a frame, although the opponent reserves the right not to accept the concession, in which case the frame will continue. Conceding a frame before the snookers required stage is regarded as unsporting conduct that will incur a warning from the referee. If the player has already been warned, they will be penalised the following frame.
contact point

Also point of contact.

The point on each of two balls at which they touch at the moment of impact. [7]
2.   The point on the cue ball at which the cue tip hits it on the shooting stroke. If this point is not dead-center on the ball, spin will be imparted to the ball.
containing safety
A type of safety shot in the middle of a safety exchange that is not intended to put the opponent in a difficult situation regarding their next safety, but rather played so as to not leave an easy pot on. A typical example in snooker, which sees the most shots of this kind, is a slow roll-up into the pack.
When the corner lip of a pocket blocks the path of the cue ball from contacting an intended object ball. Interchangeable with "tittie-hooked". [7]
corner pocket
Any of the four pockets in each corner of a pool or snooker table. They have a 90 degree aperture and as such are cut deeper than center pockets, which have 180 degree apertures.
1.   A successful shot or score; more common in carom games. [7]
2.   The running score during a game inning where multiple successive points have been made. [7]
See running a coup.
Similar to fluke whereby a shot is played with seemingly no aim to a pot or snooker but ends up with the desired outcome.
counter rack

Also counting rack, counter ball rack, [48] etc.

Same as scoring rack.
cradle cannon
A type of nurse shot used in English billiards in which two coloured balls are positioned on either side of the mouth of a snooker table pocket but not touching and, thus placed, can be successively contacted and scored off over and over by the cue ball without moving them. The cradle cannon's first known use was by Walter Lovejoy in 1907. The unofficial record using the shot is held by Tom Reece who in 1907, over the course of a month, scored 499,135 points using the cradle cannon before stopping without missing. This feat prompted the Billiards Association to outlaw the shot. The official record is held by William Cook with 42,746 points scored. [49] Compare anchor nurse.
Deviation of a ball from its initial direction of travel. Often the result of a poor-quality table and may be an artifact of the cloth, the bed, a ball with uneven weight distribution, or simply the floor the table stands on being uneven. It should not be confused with the nap of the cloth.
A set of paired balls in the game of cribbage pool that have a combined number value of 15. For example, the 8 ball and the 7 ball added together equal 15 and thus constitute one cribbage if pocketed in succession. [50]
A "cross rake" rest Hilfsqueue the cross.png
A "cross rake" rest
Also cross rake or jigger. A type of rest, with a straight shaft and "x"-shaped head for resting the cue upon.
A bank shot that rebounds off a cushion into a corner pocket across the table. [7]
cross double
A British term describing a bank shot in which the cue ball crosses the future path of the object ball. Such shots are usually played into a center pocket because there is the danger of a double-kiss if played to a corner pocket.
A bank shot that rebounds off a cushion and into a side pocket. [7]
The corner formed by the rails on a carom billiards table. In modern straight rail rules, only three counts may be made while both object balls are inside the boundaries of the crotch before one ball must be driven away. The boundaries of each of the four crotch areas are measured by drawing a line from the first diamond on the end rail to the second diamond on the long rail. [7]
Crucible curse
The phenomenon that (as of 2019) no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended the title the following year since it moved to the Crucible Theatre in 1977.
1.  Noun:Also cue stick. A stick, usually around 55 to 60 inches in length with a tip made of a material such as leather on the end and sometimes with a joint in the middle, which is used to propel billiard balls. Light-weight, shorter cues are sometimes also used in billiards-related disc games, including novuss and some forms of carrom, crokinole/croquignole, and pichenotte/pitchnut.
2.  Noun: Sometimes "cue" is short for cue ball.
3.  Verb:Same as stroke, definition 1
cue action
Chiefly British: The posture and timing used by players on their shots, often indicative of how they play in their shot selection. A fast, natural player would tend to be more aggressive whereas a less naturally gifted player might have a slow action and tend to be more conservative on the table. It is widely thought that better snooker players get lower to the table with their chins on the cue, have a straight back leg, their elbow hinging in line with the shot, and a straight follow-through after the cue ball has been struck.[ citation needed ]
cue ball
Also cue-ball, cueball. The ball in almost any cue sport, typically white in colour, that a player strikes with a cue stick. [7] Sometimes referred to as the "white ball", "whitey" or "the rock". [51] In Russian pyramid, the cue ball is usually red, but any ball can be used as a cue ball, with the exception of the dynamic pyramid variant. For more information, see the billiard ball main article.
cue ball control
See position play.
cue holder
1.  A portable device for holding cues upright and at the ready for immediate use. The most common types are either weighted and placed on a table top, with semicircular cut-outs into which cues may lean, or clamping varieties that firmly affix to a table and which have clips or holes into which cues are placed for added security.
2.  Same as cue stand.
3.  Same as wall rack.
cue power
A chiefly British term describing the amount of control a player can retain when playing shots with heavy spin and great pace; "it took tremendous cue power to get onto the 2 ball having been relatively straight on the 1".
cue rack
1.  Same as cue stand.
2.  Same as wall rack.
cue stand
A piece of stand-alone or "island" furniture designed to store cue sticks and sometimes other accessories such as the mechanical bridge (rest), balls, chalk, etc., when not in use. Contrast wall rack.
cue stick
Also cue-stick, cuestick.Same as cue.
cue tip
A formed tip, usually made of leather, that is affixed to the end of the cue stick that comes into contact with the cue ball. [7]
curve shot
Same as semi-massé. Compare swerve shot.
A player of cue sports.
The elastic bumpers mounted on all rails of a billiards table, usually made from rubber or synthetic rubber, off which the balls rebound. [7] Before the advent of vulcanized rubber manufacturing in the mid-19th century, cushions of early billiard tables were often simply cloth stuffed with straw, cotton, or other fibers; they were not very elastic, but simply quieter than bare wooden boards. The existence of cushions and rails dates to the era of outdoor ground billiards, the courts for which were often bounded by short wicker or wood fences, sometimes padded. For specific modern cushion parts, see: facing, knuckle, and nose.
cut-induced throw
Throw (object-ball deflection away from the tangent line path of the object ball), induced by ball-against-ball "sliding" friction on all cut shots to at least some degree. [52] [53] Sometimes more vaguely referred to as collision-induced throw. One of several types of throw; see throw for details.
cut shot
Technically, any shot that is not a center-to-center hit, but almost always employed when describing a shot that has more than a slight degree of angle. [7]


"D", the
A semicircle with an 11+12-inch (291 mm) radius, drawn behind a snooker table's baulk line, centred on the middle of the line, and resembling the upper case letter "D" in shape. The "D" is also used in English billiards and sometimes also in blackball and other pool games played on British-style tables. [7] The size of the "D" is typically scaled down on smaller tables.
dart stroke
A short and loose stroke performed in a manner similar to the way one throws a dart; usually employed for a jump shot. See also nip draw.
When two or more object balls are frozen or nearly frozen to each other, such that cue-ball contact with one object ball, without the necessity of great accuracy, will almost certainly pocket an intended object ball in the cluster. The most common form of dead arrangements are the dead combination or dead combo (a combination shot in which contact with the first object ball will pocket another one), and the dead kiss, in which contact with the first object ball will pocket it off of another one. See also wired.
dead cushion
Same as dead rail. [8]
dead ball
1.  Short for dead ball shot.
2.  A ball that has been used for some time, with a dirty surface, as opposed to a slick new (or highly polished used) ball. [29] A spinning dead ball will transfer more spin to other balls it comes into contact with, and not be as fast on the cloth. Even cut shot angles may be affected because of the cling or skid (British: kick) effect, and professional players often ask a referee to clean a ball, mid-game.[ citation needed ] Others may actually be more used to dead balls and prefer them. [29]
dead ball shot
Same as kill shot. [7]
dead frame
In snooker, a frame played after the result of the match has already been determined, e.g. "Lindrum crossed the winning line at 76–38 on the second Thursday, ending at 94–49 ahead after the completion of the dead frames."; [54] "Rea showed his best form ... to win the final 'dead' frame". [55]
dead rail
A cushion that has either lost a degree of elastic resiliency or is not firmly attached to the wooden rail; or a rail that is not firmly bolted to the table frame. In all three cases, the result is that balls rebound from the cushion with less energy than is normal.
dead stroke
When a player is playing flawlessly, just "cannot miss" and the game seems effortless.
Describing a pot played at such a pace as to just reach the pocket and drop in without hitting the back.
deciding frame
Also decider or deciding rack. The frame that decides the winner of a match when two opponents are tied (at a draw) on an equal number of frames, with just one remaining. The total number of frames in a match is set at an odd number to allow the final frame to act as a tie-breaker – a decider – in the event of the match reaching this frame.
1.  Displacement of the cue ball's path away from the parallel line formed by the cue stick's direction of travel; occurs every time english (side spin) is employed. The degree of deflection increases as the amount of english applied increases. It is also called squirt, typically in the United States, or cue-ball deflection.

The physics of the squirt or deflection phenomenon has been analyzed in other contexts, such as with ice-hockey pucks. [56] [57]

2.  Also object-ball deflection: same as throw.
deliberate foul
Also deliberate fault. A shot, especially common in straight pool and in some variants of blackball (but not WEPF/EPA rules [11] ), in which a player intentionally commits a foul with the object in mind of either leaving the opponent with little chance of running out or simply to avoid shooting where no good shot is presented and to do anything else would give the opponent an advantage. It is often referred to in straight pool as a "back scratch."
Same as call. (Formal.)
To move a ball (usually deliberately) from a safe position, e.g. close to the middle of a cushion or in a cluster, so that it becomes pottable.
A manufacturer's sample board showing various styles of diamond inlays for billiard tables Pool table diamond samples2.jpg
A manufacturer's sample board showing various styles of diamond inlays for billiard tables
One of a number of identical markings, usually inlaid into the surface above the rail cushions, used as target or reference points. Three equally spaced diamonds are normally between each pocket on a pool table. On a carom table, the pockets themselves are replaced by additional diamonds. Diamonds get their name from the shape of the markings traditionally used; though many today are round, square, etc., these rail markings are still referred to as "diamonds". They are also referred to as sights, especially in British English. (See also diamond system.)
Racking up a game of seven-ball using the diamond rack more commonly used for nine-ball, but sideways. The 1 ball is about to be placed on the foot spot to complete the rack. Seven-ball diamond rack 1a.jpg
Racking up a game of seven-ball using the diamond rack more commonly used for nine-ball, but sideways. The 1 ball is about to be placed on the foot spot to complete the rack.
A particular shape of ball rack, in the form of a parallelogram ("diamond shape"), used for racking games of nine-ball and seven-ball, though the triangle rack can also be used for the former, and hexagonal racks also exist for the latter. (See also triangle.)
diamond system
Any system for banking or kicking balls off multiple rails which uses table diamonds as aiming references.
1.  A cue sports game (such as eight-ball, three-cushion billiards, 18.2 balkline, etc.), especially as a professional or serious amateur specialization: "He was a World Champion in three billiards disciplines."
2.  An artistic pool term for a category of trick shots; artistic pool is divided into eight disciplines, and APTSA tournaments present both discipline-specific and all-around awards. [58]
Same as run out (chiefly British). See also break and dish.
An indentation in the cloth of the table, especially at the foot spot where the apex ball is often tapped into secure position during racking. In extreme cases, the indentation may actually be in the slate bed of the table, from excessive tapping over many years, and can cause unexpected table rolls. A racking template is used to intentionally create minor divots for all of the balls in a rack.

Also dog it.

1.  A widespread term in US parlance describing missing a relatively easy shot—often in the face of pressure. Can be used in many forms: "I dogged the shot"; "I hope he dogs it"; "I'm such a dog." [8] [59] See also choke, one-stroke.
2.  Same as slop shot (chiefly Southern US, colloquial).
In chiefly UK parlance, the non-striped ball group of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 1 through 7 and have a solid colour scheme. Compare solids, reds, low, small, little, spots, unders; contrast stripes.
Same as bank shot (chiefly British).
double century
Also double-century break. In English billiards, a break of 200–299 points (i.e. double a century). [60] Larger multi-centuries are regularly achieved. Rare in amateur play, triple centuries are routine (and quadruples not uncommon) at World Professional Billiards Championships; 2007 winner Mike Russell shot four triples in the final round alone, while of sixteen competitors, three shot quadruple centuries (one once, one twice, and Russell three times). Quintuple centuries are rare even at the professional level, with only the 494 shot by nine-time world champion Russell (who has more such titles than any other player in history as of 2007) coming close in that event. [61] As of 2007, Peter Gilchrist holds the world record, with a tredecuple century of 1346 consecutive points. [62]
double cheeseburger, the
Same as hill, hill.

Also double elimination.

A tournament format in which a player must lose two matches in order to be eliminated. [7] Contrast single-elimination.
double hit
An illegal shot (foul) in which the cue stick's tip contacts the cue ball twice during a single stroke. Double hits often occur when a player shoots the cue ball when it is very close to an object ball or cushion, because it is difficult to move the cue stick away quickly enough after the cue ball rebounds off the cushion or object ball. [1] [7]
double kiss
A situation in which two moving balls strike each other. Often happens when a ball strikes a second ball that is close to a rail, and it rebounds back into the first ball; usually but not always unintended. [8] [59]
double shimmed
A pool table where two shims have been placed on the sides of each pocket (in the jaws beneath the cloth), making the pockets "tighter" (smaller). Such tables are "tougher" than unshimmed or single-shimmed tables.
double the rail
Sometimes called a snake shot. A carom billiards shot, common in three-cushion billiards, where the cue ball is shot with reverse english at a relatively shallow angle down the rail, and spins backwards off the adjacent rail back into the first rail. [7]
double the pocket
To intentionally rebound the cue ball off both of the pocket points to achieve position. [8]
A form of team play in which two players compete against another team of two players in any given frame or match. In a doubles game, the first player from the breaking team is the only one who shoots during the opening inning, with control of the table passing to a member of the opposing team at the end of that inning, then upon the end of the opponent's inning to the doubles partner of the original player, and next to the second opponent, play proceeding in this doubly alternating manner until concluded. Also pairs (chiefly British).Contrast scotch doubles.
Toward the foot of the table.
drag shot
A shot played slowly and with heavy draw and follow-through so that the cue ball can be struck firmly but with a lot of the pace taken out, allowing more control than just a gentle tap that would travel as far. Also called "Drag Draw".
1.  Also known as back spin, a type of spin applied to the cue ball by hitting it below its equator, causing it to spin backwards even as it slides forward on the cloth. Back spin slows the cue ball down, reduces its travel, and narrows both the carom angle after contact with an object ball, and angle of reflection off a cushion. There are several variant terms for this, including "bottom" and "bottom spin" in the US and "screw" in the UK. Draw is thought to be the first spin technique understood by billiards players prior to the introduction of leather tips, and was in use by the 1790s. [1] See illustration at spin.
2.  The schedule of fixtures in a tournament.
draw shot
A shot in which the cue ball is struck below its equator with sufficient draw to make it reverse direction at the moment of contact with an object ball because it is still back-spinning. [1] When the object and cue balls are lined up square, the reversal will be directly backwards, while on a cut shot, the effect will alter the carom angle. It can also refer to any shot to which draw is applied, as in "draw it off the foot rail just to the left of the center diamond". See illustration at spin.
1.  A set practice routine;
2.  To beat badly; "I drilled my opponent."
3.  In British terminology, a bank shot.
drop pockets
Netted or cupped pockets that do not return the balls to the foot end of the table by means of a gutter system or sloped surface beneath. Instead, they must instead be retrieved manually. [7]
dry break
A break shot in pool on which zero object balls are potted.
1.  (Noun): Derived from "sitting duck", usually referring to an object ball sitting close to a pocket or so positioned that is virtually impossible to miss. Same as hanger (US, colloquial), sitter (UK).
2.  (Verb): To intentionally play a safety.
To intentionally lose a game, e.g. to disguise one's actual playing ability. [14] An extreme form of sandbagging. See also hustle.See also Match fixing for the synonym "tank", used in sports more generally.
dump shot
A type of containing safety shot in snooker where the cue ball is played slowly up the table in order to "dump" it on the (usually) top cushion and leave the object ball safe. [63]


1.  One of several games that arose around the beginning of the 20th century from pyramid pool. They have in common the use of a rack of fifteen object balls and a single cue ball, a hard break from behind the head string or baulk line, and a goal of pocketing (potting) all of one's own suit of balls then finally the black 8 ball. There are two main formalized versions of the game:
  • eight-ball, an originally American and now internationally standardized professional version, also subject to competitive team play in numerous leagues. It is the most-played form of competition pool in the world, though not for professionals, among whom nine-ball dominates. Uses a set of striped and solid numbered balls. Ball-and-pocket are called for each shot, with fouls (faults) resulting in cue ball in-hand for the opponent, anywhere on the table.
  • blackball a.k.a. British-style eight-ball pool, an originally British variant, also favoured in many Commonwealth countries, and parts of Continental Europe, with amateur and professional leagues. The two names reflect slightly variant rulesets, which differ primarily in handling of faults (fouls). Shots are not called. Uses a set of yellow and red balls. Pub pool usually consists of minor local variations on one of these two standardised rule sets.
Most forms of bar pool are variants of eight-ball, although rules may vary from venue to venue even within the same city. These variants arose primarily to drag out the game on coin-operated tables ("bar boxes"). In North America, many casual recreational players are unaware any other form of pool exists beyond bar pool.
2.   A spelled-out name for the 8 ball.
end rail
Either of the two shorter rails of a billiards table. Compare short rail; contrast side/long rail.
Chiefly American: Also known as side spin, english (which is usually not capitalized) [64] is spin placed on the cue ball when hit with the cue tip to the left or right of the ball's center. English has a marked effect on cue ball rebound angle off cushions (though not off object balls), and is thus crucial for gaining shape; and can be used to "throw" an object ball slightly off its otherwise expected trajectory, to cheat the pocket, and for other effects. "English" is sometimes used more inclusively, to colloquially also refer to follow and draw. In combination one could say bottom-right english, or like the face of a clock (4 o'clock english). [7] The British and Irish do not use this term, instead preferring "side". See illustration at spin.
english-induced throw
Same as spin-induced throw. [52] [53] See throw for details.
The horizontal plane directly in the center of the cue ball, which when hit exactly by the cue tip should impart no follow or draw.
A successful attempt to get out of a snooker.
A snooker cue with two attachable extensions Snooker cue and extensions.png
A snooker cue with two attachable extensions
Any mechanical aid that serves to extend the length of the player's cue, normally added to the end of the butt either by clipping around the end or screwing into the base. Though extensions are used for pool, it is more common in snooker because of the significantly larger table size.
2.  In a tournament where players get limited time to make their shots (common in televised matches), an extension is extra time granted before making a shot; players have a limited number of extensions in each frame.


Also cushion face. [21] The protrusion of the playing edge of the cushion from the rail over the bed of the table. [21] The furthest-protruding point of the face is known as the nose of the cushion. The playing area of the table is the space between the faces (technically, the noses) of the cushions. [21]
A comparison of the pocket facings of (left to right): an American pool table (side pocket); a British-style snooker table (corner pocket); and a Russian pyramid table (side pocket) Pocket facings comparison.jpg
A comparison of the pocket facings of (left to right): an American pool table (side pocket); a British-style snooker table (corner pocket); and a Russian pyramid table (side pocket)
The facings of a pocket are the portions of the rail cushions that line the jaws of the pocket. Facings vary widely by game. Pool facings are flat and angled rather wide, on pockets notably larger than the balls, to act much like the backboard in basketball, in that a shot can be directed into the facing to cause it to angle off the facing into the pocket. They are reinforced with plastic shims between the cushion rubber and the cloth, to reduce wear and tear. Snooker facings are curved and not angled, providing a smooth transition between the rails and the pockets, which are not much wider than the balls, thus preventing any backboard effect (snooker shots must be almost perfectly straight in). The facings in Russian billiards are even more challenging, being straight and angled inward rather than outward, which results in the knuckles of the pocket, barely wide enough to accept a ball, rejecting any but the most accurate shots.
1.  Verb, passive, intransitive: For a ball to be pocketed. "The 8 ball fell early, so the game was over quickly."
2.  Noun: The curved edge cut into the table bed at which the hole of the pocket actually begins inside the pocket jaws. [65] The fall may be a sheer drop, as on tournament-standard snooker tables, or have a beveled, down-sloping rim, as on pool tables. A ball is, of course, much more likely to hang when there is no bevel. How far into the pocket the fall begins is one factor that determines "pocket speed" or difficulty.
1.  Describes a billiard table with tightly woven and broken-in (but clean) cloth (baize), upon which the balls move quicker and farther. [46] See table speed for more information.
2.  Producing lively action; said of cushions or of the balls, in addition to the above, cloth-related definition. [66]
3.  Unusually accepting of balls; said of pockets; see pocket speed (sense 1) for more information. "Slow" is the direct opposite of "fast" in all of these usages.
See undercut.
Same as foul (chiefly British, and declining in usage; even the WPA and WEFP blackball rules use "foul").
Also feather shot. A very thin cut shot in which the cue ball just brushes the edge of an object ball. "Feather" by itself can be both noun and verb (e.g. "feathering the ball"). [67] [7] See also snick.
Same as cloth (deprecated; it is factually incorrect, as felt is a completely different kind of cloth from baize).
A sleeve, permanently fitted onto the lathed-down tip end of the cue, made from fiberglass, phenolic resin, brass, ivory, horn or antler, melamine, plastic, or other rigid material, upon which the cue tip is mounted and which protects the shaft wood from splitting due to impact with the cue ball. [7]
Common slang in the U.S. for a cheap, poorly made cue. Compare wood.
1.  An easy mark;
2.  A person who loses money gambling and keeps coming back for more;
3.  Sometimes, a poor player;
4.  As a verb, either to hit the balls hard with no intention in mind other than to get lucky and perhaps scatter the balls a bit more ("hit-and-hope"), or to shoot hard at the money ball with the same intention ("smash-and-pray"). Compare slop and fluke; contrast mark (sense 3) and call.
flagrant foul
A foul where the rules are blatantly, intentionally violated; in contexts where this qualifies as unsportsmanlike conduct, a stiffer penalty may apply (e.g. loss of frame) than normal for a foul.
flat-back pack
In snooker, a situation during a frame in which the first line of the remaining reds grouped together, where the original pack was, are in a straight horizontal line. This has implications when opening the pack, as a full-ball contact off the top cushion will usually cause the cue-ball to stick to the red and fail to develop a potting opportunity.
A shot that has an ostensibly positive outcome for the player, although it was not what the player intended. Examples of flukes include an unexpected pot off several cushions or other balls having missed the pocket aimed for, or a lucky safety position after having missed a shot. Many players are apologetic after a fluke. In many games, flukes result in a loss of turn, although some rule sets (most notably those of snooker, nine-ball and related games, and the eight-ball rules of the American Poolplayers Association and its affiliates) count flukes as valid, point-making shots. Compare fish and slop; contrast mark (sense 3) and call.
The forward rotation of the cue ball that results from a follow shot. Also known as top spin or top, follow is applied to the cue ball by hitting it above its equator, causing it to spin more rapidly in the direction of travel than it would simply by rolling on the cloth from a center-ball hit. Follow speeds the cue ball up, and widens both the carom angle after contact with an object ball, and angle of reflection off a cushion. See illustration at spin.
follow shot
A shot in which the cue ball is struck above its equator with sufficient top spin to cause the cue ball to travel forward after it contacts an object ball. When a cue ball with follow on it contacts an object ball squarely (a center-to-center hit), the cue ball travels directly forward through the space previously occupied by the object ball (and can sometimes even be used to pocket a second ball). By contrast, on a cut shot, a cue ball with follow on it will first travel on the tangent line after striking the object ball, and then arc forward, widening the carom angle. [7] See illustration at spin.
On a shot, the extension of the cue stick through the cue ball position during the end of a player's stroke in the direction originally aimed. [7]
Chiefly American: The half of the table in which the object balls are racked (in games in which racked balls are used). This usage is conceptually opposite that in British English, where this end of the table is called the top. Contrast head.
foot cushion
Chiefly American: The cushion on the foot rail. Compare top cushion; contrast head cushion.
foot rail
Chiefly American: The short rail at the foot of the table. Frequently used imprecisely, to mean foot cushion. Compare top rail; contrast head rail.
foot spot
The point on the table surface over which the apex ball of a rack is centered (in most games). It is the point half the distance between the long rails' second diamonds from the end of the racking end of the table. The foot spot is the intersection of the foot string and the long string, and is typically marked with a cloth or paper decal on pool tables. [7] Contrast head spot.
foot string
An imaginary line running horizontally across a billiards table from the second diamond (from the foot end of the table) on one long rail to the corresponding second diamond on the other long rail. The foot string intersects the long string at the foot spot. It is rarely drawn on the table. [7]
forced shot
Same as cheating the pocket. Principally used in snooker.
force follow
A powerful follow shot with a high degree of top spin on it; usually when the object ball being hit is relatively close to the cue ball and is being hit very full; [7] also known as "prograde top spin" or "prograde follow" (when referring to the action on the shot rather than the shot per se), and as a "jenny" in Australia.
forward spin
Same as follow (top spin).

Sometimes interchangeable with scratch, though the latter is often used only to refer to the foul of pocketing the cue ball.

A violation of a particular game's rules for which a set penalty is imposed. In many pool games the penalty for a foul is ball-in-hand anywhere on the table for the opponent. In some games such as straight pool, a foul results in a loss of one or more points. In one-pocket, in which a set number of balls must be made in a specific pocket, upon a foul the player must return a ball to the table. In some games, three successive fouls in a row is a loss of game. In straight pool, a third successive foul results in a loss of 16 points (15 plus one for the foul). [7]

Possible foul situations (non-exhaustive):

  •   The player shoots the cue ball first into a ball that is not an object ball; [7]
  •   The player shoots and after contacting an object ball, no ball is pocketed and neither the cue ball nor a numbered ball contacts a cushion (excepting push out rules); [7]
  •   The player pockets the cue ball (see scratch); [7]
  •   The player does not have at least one foot on the floor at the moment of shooting; [7]
  •   The player shoots the cue ball before all other balls have come to a complete stop; [7]
  •   The player hits the cue ball more than once during a shot (a double hit); [7]
  •   The player touches the cue ball with something other than the tip of the cue; [7]
  •   The player touches any ball other than the cue ball; [7]
  •   The player causes a ball to leave the table's playing surface without it returning (e.g., jumping a ball off the table); [7]
  •   The player marks the table in any manner to aid in aiming; [7]
  •   The player who has ball-in-hand, touches an object ball with the cue ball while attempting to place the cue ball on the table; [7]
  •   The player shoots in such a manner that his cue tip stays in contact with the cue ball for more than the momentary time commensurate with a stroked shot (a push shot). [7]
A term for each rack from the break off until a clearance, losing foul or concession has been made. A match is made up of several frames. See also game (sense 1), which has a slightly broader meaning.
frame ball
In snooker, the ball that, if potted, will leave the trailing player requiring snookers.
free ball
Freeball situation: red is snookered, blue can be called. Snooker Freeball.png
Freeball situation: red is snookered, blue can be called.

Also free shot. A situation where a player has fouled, leaving the opponent snookered. In UK eight-ball this would normally give the opponent the option of one of two plays: (1) ball-in-hand with two shots; (2) being allowed to contact, or even pot, a ball other than one from their set from the snookered position (although the black may not be potted), with the loss of the first shot. In addition, some variations of the game allow the player to pot one of the opposition's balls, on the first visit only, without the loss of a "free shot".

In snooker, it allows a player to call any ball as the ball she/he would have wanted to play, potting it for the same number of points, or the opponent can be put back in without the same privilege, having to play the ball snookered on. The definition of snooker on this occasion means the opponent cannot strike both extreme edges of the object ball (or a cluster of touching balls).
free stroking
1.  Pocketing well and quickly but without much thought for position play.
2.  Playing loose and carefree.
3.  Same as dead stroke.
freeze up
To dedicate a set amount of money that a gambling match will be played to; no one may quit until one player or the other has won the "frozen up" funds.
Chiefly American: A resting ball that is in actual contact with a cushion or with one or more other balls is said to be "frozen" (or, colloquially, "froze") to that cushion or the touching ball(s). [68] [7] (For frozen combination/combo, frozen kiss, etc., that is almost impossible to miss, see the more common variants under dead). The chiefly British "tight" is equivalent to "frozen", but only applied to frozen/tight to a cushion, not to another ball. For situations in which the cue ball is frozen to an object ball, different rule sets have different approaches. In some, the cue ball must be addressed with the cue at an angle at least 45 degrees divergent from an imaginary line running through the center of the balls, to minimize chances of a push shot. In snooker (and some British pool rules), this is called a touching ball, and the cue ball must be shot away from the object ball without the latter moving.
Also full-ball. A type of contact between two balls from which no or little angle is created between their paths; the contact required to pot a straight shot. It is commonly used in reference to how much of an object ball a player can see with the cue ball: "Can you hit that full?".
The basic actions necessary to shoot well: stance, grip, stroke, bridge, and follow-through.


1.  Play, from the opening break shot until one player has won (or the game has been halted for some reason by a referee). Games are the units that make up matches, races (in some senses of that term) and rounds. Essentially the same as frame, except with regards to straight pool, which is a multi-rack game.
2.  An identifiable, codifiable set of rules. Pool is not a game, but a class of games. Nine-ball is a game.
3.  Note: There are also slang usages, such as "to have game" (to be a good player, as in "he['s] got game") and "to be game" (to be willing to play or to gamble, as in "yeah, I'm game, so let's see what you've got"). But these usages are not particular to cue sports.
game ball
The ball required to win the rack. See also money ball. [7]
games on the wire
To give a handicap to an opponent where they have to win a specified number fewer games than the other player in order to triumph in the match. [69] The name refers to posting games on the scorekeeping mechanism known as a wire or scoring string, though the phrase may still be employed when no actual use of the particular device is available or intended.
An agreement between two players in a tournament, one of whom will advance to a guaranteed money prize if the match is won, to give a certain percentage of that money to the loser of the match. Also known as a saver. [8]
gather shot
In the carom games, any shot where the end result is all the balls near each other; ideally, in position for the start of a nurse on the next stroke. [7]
gearing outside english
Also outside gearing english, etc.: Precise application of outside english to counter the effects of throw (deflection of the object ball from its expected tangent line path), by applying counter-sidespin in the direction opposite to that which would increase the friction- and rolling-curve deflection of the object ball from the desired path. Gearing spin can also be used as a hedge to minimize the effects of imminently predicted cling (also known as skid or, in British and especially snooker terminology, kick). "Gearing" outside english is not a type or style of outside spin, but an subjectively judged amount of it – enough to cause the cue ball rotation to affect the object ball's rotation in a desired way through momentarily prolonged contact, like two gears interacting. This is relative to specific playing conditions, including the shot angle and force, whether other compensation mechanisms are being used such slit over-cutting to thwart throw, and the cleanliness condition of the balls. The term gearing outside english is technical jargon rather than player slang; it was introduced by billiards-focused physicist and mechanical engineer David G. Alciatore in the 2000s. [43] [52] [53] See throw for additional information.
general average
Abbreviation: GA. In carom billiards, the number that indicates the overall relation between the points and innings (points ÷ innings = GA) a player has made throughout the whole tournament. E.g., 125 points in 56 innings is a GA of 2.232. Higher numbers indicate better players. See also special average.
gentlemen's call
Also gentleman's call. An informal approach to the "call-everything" variation of call-shot, common in bar pool. Obvious shots, such as a straight-on or near-straight shot for which the shooter is clearly aiming and which could not be mistaken for another shot, need not be called. Bank shots, kicks, caroms and combinations are usually less obvious and generally must be called, though this may depend upon the mutual skill level and shot selection perception of the players. An opponent has the right to ask what the shooter's intention is, if this is unclear.
ghost ball
A common aiming method in which a phantom ball is imagined frozen to the object ball at the point where an imaginary line drawn between their centers is aimed at the desired target; the center of cue ball may then be shot at the center of the "ghost" ball (i.e., to precisely take the place of where that ball is imagined to be) and, ideally, impact the object ball at the proper contact point. [8] The ghost-ball method of aiming results in misses where adjustment is not made for collision-induced throw.
go off
Describes the propensity of a player losing small sums of money at gambling to suddenly sharply increase the stakes; often continuing to lose until broke. Compare Chasing one's money. Sandbagging and pretending to "go off" (only to handily win the raised-stakes bet) is a classic hustling technique; see also on the lemonade .
golden break
In nine-ball a break shot that pots the 9 ball without fouling, in which case the player wins in one shot. Some tournaments also apply similar rules to the money ball in other games. See also on the snap.
golden duck
When potting both the cue ball and money ball on the break results in an automatic loss of frame. A non-standard rule, it is nonetheless used in some professional events.
goose neck
Also goose-neck rest.Same as swan.
Colloquial term for an unusually large, heavy cue ball made of the same phenolic resin or other modern, resilient plastic as the object balls. "Grapefruit" cue balls are frequently found on older coin-operated bar tables that do not have magnetic ball-return mechanisms. As with excessively dense, ceramic "rock" cue balls, the ball return works because the cue ball is considerably heavier than, and thereby distinguishable from, the object balls. Unlike "rocks", grapefruit balls are not prone to excessive equipment wear and tear. But because of their unusually large size, they have a very strong effect on the tangent line and thus on the accuracy of cut shots. Their weight also has a notable effect on play, as they are somewhat more difficult to draw (screw), stop and stun compared to standard and magnetic cue balls, but not to the extent of the much less resilient rock balls. Like rocks, grapefruits do generate a large amount of smash-through.
1.  Nearly table-length distance between the cue ball and target object ball, or between an object ball and target pocket, i.e. a potentially difficult shot due to distance ("you sure left me a lot of green on that one")
2.  The cloth covering the table ("oh no, you just ripped the green")
3.  The green ball ("that was a great shot on the green")
4.  Money ("I won a lot of green last night from that wannabe hustler")
green ball
Also the green. In snooker, the colour ball that is worth three points, being the second-least valuable colour behind the yellow. [70] It is one of the baulk colours, and is placed on the green spot. [70] [18] In some (especially American) snooker ball sets, it is numbered "3" on its surface.
green spot
The spot (usually not specially marked because it is obvious) on a snooker table at which the green ball is placed. Regardless of table size, it is the intersection of the "D" and the balk line on the breaker's left side. [70] [18] The left-to-right order of the green, brown and yellow balls is the subject of the mnemonic phrase "God bless you". [17]
green pocket
In snooker, the corner pocket that is closest to the green spot.
1.  The way in which a player holds the butt end of the cue stick. [7]
2.  The wrap of the cuestick where the hand is placed, also known as the "grip area." [7]
Same as suit , predominantly in British terminology, i.e., in eight-ball either of the set of seven balls (reds or yellows) that must be cleared before potting the black. Generally used in the generic, especially in rulesets or articles, rather than colloquially by players. [11]
gully table
1.  A table with a ball return system, as opposed to a drop pocket table. [71]
2.  Also gutter table.Same as bar table.


half-ball hit
Half-ball striking Billiards half-ball striking diagram.png
Half-ball striking
A shot aimed so that the center of the cue ball is in line with the edge of the object ball, eclipsing half of the ball. "Hit it just a little thinner than half-ball." Assuming a cling does not occur, the shot will impart post-contact momentum on the object ball in a direction 30° (which is , where is the fraction of object ball eclipsed: 12 in this case) off the direction of the cue-ball's pre-contact momentum. Also notable because the carom angle the cue ball takes is more consistent than at other contact points.
In snooker and English billiards, a rest that is approximately 3 metres long and used with a cue of about the same length, used for shots that cannot be reached with normal rests and cues. [72]
In snooker and other British usages, a break of between 50 and 99 points (100 points or more being called a century), which requires potting at least 12 consecutive balls (e.g. the last three reds with at least two blacks and a pink, followed by all the colours).
hail Mary
Chiefly American; same as hit and hope. A term borrowed from a similar idea in American football.
hand chalk
A misnomer for hand talc.
Modification of the rules and/or scoring of a game to enable players of variable abilities to compete on a more even playing field. [7] Examples of handicapping include spotting balls and giving games on the wire to an opponent. In league play, common forms of handicapping include awarding compensating points to a lesser-skilled team, or using numerical player ranking systems to adjust final scores between opponents of different skill levels. A player's handicap is such a numerical rank. See Handicapping main article for more general information on sports handicapping.
Said of a ball, to come to rest partially over the edge of a pocket's fall but still resting on the table bed. [73] Because of ball curvature, if the very bottom of the ball is not over the sharp rim or beveled slope (depending on table type) of the pocket's fall, the ball will not drop into the pocket. As much as approximately 49% of a ball's diameter can be hanging over the sharp drop of a standard snooker table fall, but considerably less on a typical pool table, with beveled falls. A ball hanging in the pocket – a "hanger" – is nearly unmissable [73] (though fouling by scratching the cue ball into the pocket right after the object ball is a common mistake). Can be used in a transitive sense in reference to player action: "You hung that one right on the edge".
1.  An easily shot object ball that is "hanging" in the pocket. [73]
2.  By extension, any extremely easy shot, even in carom billiards which has no pockets. [73]
have the nuts
Be in a game where either because of disparity in skill level, or because of a handicap given, it would be very difficult to lose.
having the cue ball on a string
Used when describing perfect cue ball position play. [74] [75]
1.  Literally, a pocket, but generally used in the phrases losing hazardpotting (pocketing) the cue ball off another ball – and winning hazard – using the cue ball to pot another ball – the two types of legal shots that pocket balls in games in which the term is used at all, which is very few today. The term principally survives in English billiards, in which both types of shots are point-scoring. Formerly, a large number of different games made use of the two types of hazards as point scorers or losers in various ways (thus their suggestive names). The term ultimately derives from holes or pockets in the table to be avoided, in very early forms of billiards. [76]
2.  In golf billiards, an area of the table (sometimes marked) that a player will be penalized for entering if their ball does not leave. Derives from the use of the term in the outdoor game of golf. [77]
Chiefly American: The half of the table from which the break shot is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in British English, where this end of the table is called the bottom. Contrast foot.See also kitchen.
head cushion
Chiefly American: The cushion on the head rail. Compare bottom cushion; contrast foot cushion.
head rail
Chiefly American: The short rail at the head of the table. Traditionally this is the rail on which the table manufacturer's logo appears. Compare bottom rail, baulk rail; contrast foot rail, top rail.
head spot
The intersection of the head string and long string, which is usually not marked on a table with a spot decal or other mark, unlike the foot spot, though some pool halls mark both spots so that racking can be done at either end of the table, and wear on the cloth from racking and breaking is more evenly distributed. [7] Compare baulk spot.
head string
A line, sometimes imaginary (especially in American pool), sometimes drawn on the cloth, that runs horizontally across the table from the second diamond (from the head rail) on one long rail to the corresponding second diamond on the other long rail. [7] In most pool games, the opening break shot must be performed with the center (base) of the cue ball behind the head string (i.e. between the head string and head rail). The head string intersects the long string at the head spot, and delimits the kitchen (and, in European nine-ball, the outer boundary of the break box). The head string's position is always determined by the diamonds, in contrast to the similar but different baulk line, the position of which is determined by measurement from the bottom cushion (head cushion).
heads up
Same as straight up.
The strength of a player's will to win; the ability to overcome pressure; "he showed a lot of heart in making that comeback."
1.  Also highs, high balls, high ones. In eight-ball and related games, to be shooting the striped suit (group) of balls (9 through 15); "you're high balls" or "I've got the highs" ("you're high" is rare, because of the "intoxication" ambiguity). Compare stripes, yellows, big ones, overs; contrast low.
2.  With follow, as in "I shot that high left", meaning "I shot that with follow and with left english". Derives from the fact that one must aim above the cue ball's equator, i.e. "high" on the ball, to impart follow. "With" is optional (e.g. "I shot that with high left" or "I shot that high left"). Contrast low.
3.  In snooker, same as "above", as in "she'll want to finish high on the black to allow position on the red".
4.  With run (UK: break), a lengthy series of successful shots; see high run, high break .
high break
UK: Essentially the same as high run, but applied to snooker and by extension to pool, especially blackball pool: A break (series of successful pots) running into large numbers for that player's skill level.
high run

Also (rarely) high-run, hi-run, highrun, etc.

A series of successful shots (a run) that is lengthy for the player's skill level. The exact implication is dependent upon context, e.g. "my high run at three-cushion is 15", "Jones had the highest run of the tournament", "that was a pretty high run you just did", etc. Used congratulatorily, it may be phrased "good run", "great run", "nice run", etc. See also high break.
See on the hill, hill-hill.
The point in match play where both players (or teams) need only one more game (frame) victory to win the match or race. [78] [79] See also on the hill, rubber match.
hit and hope
A shot in which the player is relying on luck for a favorable outcome, because no better shot seems to exist. Compare hail Mary, and smash and pray.
Also ho ball(s). An exhortatory cry to a ball or balls to slow down or come to a stop, often made when overshooting position with the cue ball. [80]
hold the spot
In snooker, to leave the cue ball ball on the spot of a colour ball after potting it. This is usually performed where re-spotting of the colour ball would cause positional problems for the player, such as blocking available pots on one or more red balls.
1.  Same as snooker (verb) [81]
2.  Same as hook rest.
hook rest
Also the hook. In snooker, a type of mechanical bridge that has only since the 2010s been endorsed by the WPBSA to allow its use in major tournament play. It is a normal rest with the head in line with the shaft, but the last foot or so of the shaft is curved. This allows players to position the curved end around an obstructing ball that would have otherwise left them hampered on the cue ball and in need of a spider or swan with extensions, which would have less control.
Same as knuckle. By analogy to animal horns, not the musical instruments.
hot seat
Position at the end of the winner bracket in a double-elimination tournament, waiting to face the winner of the loser's bracket in the finals.
1.  The venue in which the game is being played, e.g. a snooker hall, pool bar, etc.
2.  The kitchen or baulk area of a Russian billiards table; from Russian: дома, romanized: doma, lit. 'house'.
house cue
Usually a one-piece cue freely available for use by patrons in bars/pubs and pool halls.
house man
A pool room employee who plays with a good degree of skill.
house rack
A pejorative term for an improper rack in which the balls are not properly in contact with their neighbors, often resulting in a poor spread on the break.
house rules
The rules played in a particular venue not necessarily in comportment with official rules, or with common local bar pool custom.
hug the rail
Describes a ball rolling along a rail in contact or near contact with it, or making multiple successive contacts with the rail. [1] [82] See velcro.
To play for money and lull a victim into thinking they can win, prompting them to accept higher and higher stakes, until beating them and walking off with more money than they would have been willing to bet had they been beaten soundly in the beginning. The terms hustler, for one who hustles, and hustling, describing the act, are just as common if not more so than this verb form. See also sandbag, on the lemonade, lemonade stroke, shark, dump.


As in many other sports, "illegal" means causing or likely to cause a foul (the opposite being legal). (See legal for specific examples of usage.)
1.  Shortening of ball-in-hand.
2.  In snooker, the ability to place the cue ball anywhere inside the boundaries of the D. This occurs at the start of a frame, and after the cue ball has been potted or forced off the table.
A player's (or doubles team's) turn at the table, usually ending with a failure to score a point or to pocket a ball, depending on the game, a foul, a safety or with a win. [7] In some games, such as five-pins and killer, a player's inning is always limited to one shot, regardless of the intent and result of the shot. Usually synonymous with visit, except in scotch doubles format. The term is sometimes used to mean both players'/teams' visits combined, e.g. when referring to the inning in which a memorable shot occurred.
(Chiefly British.) In snooker, English billiards, and blackball/eight-ball pool, an instance where the cue ball has been potted (pocketed) after contacting an object ball. It is a fault (foul) in most games. [7] In English billiards it is a common method of scoring. There is no equivalent (current) American term for this specific means of pocketing the white ball. Compare losing hazard,