A moose once bit my sister...

When you've just started playing Ultimate, one of the hardest things to learn is the jargon. To help you out, I've created this handy-dandy Ultimate Dictionary!


Only interested in words starting with Q? No problem, I won't make you scroll through all the other letters.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A
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air bounce: This is a tricky throw to pull off. You have to throw the disc at the ground, and miss. Be wary of using this in a game, because you will probably start arguments about whether or not the disc scraped the grass during its flight. (Plus there's the possibility that you'll throw the disc at the ground and hit it.)

away: The sideline where your stuff is not located. When you force away, you force away from your home sideline.

B
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backhand: This is one of the basic Ultimate throws, and is probably how you first learned to throw a disc. It's called a backhand because the back of your hand leads.

bid: An attempt to catch or D the disc (depending on whether the person making the bid is on offense or defense).

blade: A throw that comes in really fast and nearly perpendicular to the ground. These are hard to catch. (There exists a terrible terrible game called Cower, whereby you throw blades at people. This is the best way to taco a disc short of actually folding it in half.)

bookends: When you're on defense and you make a D, then you catch the next score. This is awesome.

break: If you're forcing flick and the girl you're guarding throws a backhand, that's a break (i.e., she broke your force).

C
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callahan: A catch made by someone on defense while in their own endzone. This typically happens when offense is trying to throw a dump pass and/or it's particularly windy. At some tournaments, callahans are worth two points.

Catch your Ds! This is good advice. If you D a disc by smacking it aside so your girl can't catch it, there's always a chance that someone else on her team will snag it before it hits the ground, effectively making your D worthless. But if you catch it, it's yours.

clear/clear out: If someone tells you to clear out, they want you to sprint back to the middle of the field and get back in the stack, because you're clogging the throwing lane.

clogging: Besides a lively dance in wooden shoes, clogging is what happens when someone gets in the way of people who are trying to cut. You can avoid clogging by clearing back to the stack as soon as you know the thrower isn't going to give you the disc.

cut: When someone on offense runs, basically. You make a cut to get away from your defender so the person with the disc can throw it to you with less risk of a turnover. An in cut is where you run toward the thrower, a deep cut is where you run deep (away from the thrower and toward your endzone), a checkmark cut is where you start running one way then turn suddenly and run the opposite direction, an S cut is where you run diagonally downfield and toward one sideline then curve around and run diagonally downfield toward the opposite sideline. There are others as well, but those are the ones I can remember at the moment.

D
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D: Short for "defense" or "defensive play," because it's a lot easier to yell "Nice D!" than "Nice defensive play!" when you're in the middle of a game. ("D" can also be used as a verb, as in "I threw a great flick huck, but it got D'd. And then I got scored on.")

disc: Sometimes referred to as a "frisbee." A standard Ultimate disc is 175 grams.

dump: A short pass upfield (away from the thrower's endzone). It's good to throw a dump pass when the stall count gets high (as in, five or above) or to move the disc away from the sidelines and toward the middle of the field. (The term "dump" can also refer to the player in position to receive a dump pass.)

dump/swing: A play where the thrower makes a dump pass, then someone (typically the person at the front of the stack, or the thrower herself) cuts to the opposite side of the field for a pass from the new thrower. This is a great way to get the disc away from the sidelines so people have more room to cut.

E
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endzone: This is where you score. Um...that's it really.

F
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flick: Also known as a forehand, this is one of the basic Ultimate throws. It's called a forehand because the front of your hand leads.

flip disc: A game for four players, two teams of two. Teams stand a yard or so apart. Team A serves the disc; one person on team B macs it to the other person on team B, who then has to catch it with one hand. Only clean catches are allowed, no traps against the body or double macs, just a straight one-handed snag. A legal catch earns team B a point. Team B then serves to team A. Games are usually played to seven points.

foul: Basically, a foul in Ultimate is any non-incidental physical contact. This includes, but is not limited to: knocking a player's hand away to prevent them from catching the disc, running into a stationary player, stepping on the feet of the person marking you, punching another player in the face. Try not to do these things, as they are considered unsportsmanlike.

G
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game disc: A new or just-slightly-used disc that isn't warped or too rough on the edges. A game disc is a disc that's good enough to use in a game, where you want turnovers to be the result of good defense or less skilled offense, rather than a bent-up disc that doesn't fly straight.

get ho: Short for "get horizontal." If someone tells you this, they want you to lay out.

gratuitous: Unnecessary, done mostly for show. Makes for some good photos though.

greatest: Considered by some to be the "greatest" play in Ultimate, this is a (theoretically possible) maneuver whereby a player jumps from in-bounds, catches a disc that was heading out-of-bounds, and while still in the air throws the disc to a teammate for a score. I have never actually seen this happen. It may be a myth.

H
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hammer: An upside-down throw useful for getting the disc over the heads of your defenders. You hold the disc in a flick grip, with the disc upside-down and your arm almost behind your head. Then you just kind of...hurl it. Ideally, it will start off tilted, then flatten out as it reaches the receiver.

home: The sideline where all your stuff is. When you force home, you force toward that sideline.

hospital throw: A long, floaty throw that gives offense and defense plenty of time to get under the disc, and collide when they all go up for it at the same time.

hot box: This is what you can play when you don't have enough people to play real Ultimate. It's a game with two teams of three or four players each. There's a small box (approx. one yard square) marked out on the field with cones or shoes or water bottles or whatever else you have lying around. You can only score by catching the disc inside this box. At the start of play or after a turnover, the offense has to complete at least three passes before they can score. Usually there will be a stall count of five or six rather than ten, because hot box is meant to be fast-paced and encourage quick cuts. This makes it about as much fun as running suicides, so if you don't have enough people to play real Ultimate you should have a flip disc competition instead.

huck: A long throw. There are flick hucks and backhand hucks. I would dearly love to see someone attempt a push pass huck. That would make my day.

I
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iso: Short for "isolate." (I'd been playing for two years before I figured that out.) In a game, if the thrower calls "Iso Henrietta!" that means they want Henrietta to get open and be ready to catch the disc, and they want everyone else to stay out of the way. Sometimes the thrower will call iso on a nickname or description (especially if the opposing team knows the intended receiver's name), so you might hear "Iso my roommate!" or "Iso Radar!" If someone on your team calls an iso and you have no idea who they're referring to, assume it's not you and stay out of the throwing lane.

J
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jargon: It means slang. (Any kind of slang, not just Ultimate slang.)

K
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L
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layout: ("Lay out," if used as a verb.) A flying catch or D where you basically pretend you are Superman and dive toward the disc, with the intent of catching it. The idea is to land on your chest and hips, rather than on your arms (which can screw up your shoulders) or your knees (which can screw up your knees). Can be pretty spectacular when done properly. Also is not always strictly necessary (see "gratuitous"). (Although to be fair, you can pick up a lot of trash by laying out that you wouldn't think you'd be able to get to. [I keep telling myself this yet I am still too scared to get ho. :( ])

lobster-claw: A type of catch where you hold both hands in front of you and try to grab the disc in a pincher motion (like you're doing the first bit of the Chicken Dance). This sometimes (often) leads to a turnover due to the disc bouncing off your palms before you can make the catch. It's usually better to pancake if you can.

M
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mac: To hit or tap the disc with one hand, propelling it toward another player without catching it.

mac line: Someone throws a disc down a line of people, and each person tries to mac it to the next in line, and the last person in line tries to catch it. There is much celebration if everyone touches the disc and it still gets caught at the end.

man: Type of defense where each person on D guards a specific player on O (their "man") and tries to keep that person from catching the disc. (Typically seen against a stack offense.)

man on: I've heard this used two ways: by the thrower to let a cutter know that she's guarded so she should clear back to the stack, and by someone on defense to tell everyone else on defense to switch from zone to man.

N
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north/south: This may be a BOS specific term, but it refers to a cut that is mostly vertical, i.e. going away from one endzone and toward the other.

O
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O: Short for "offense" or "offensive." As in "zone O" or "O line."

offense: The team that has possession of the disc.

P
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pancake: A catch made by clapping the disc between your hands. Typically more reliable than the lobster-claw method, because if you clap too late there's still a chance you can catch the disc as it bounces off your chest.

pick: People tell me that this is like a pick in basketball, so if that means anything to you, great. (But apparently it's legal in basketball, whereas in Ultimate it isn't.) A pick happens when, for whatever reason, another person or people come between a defensive player and the person they're guarding. (This only applies if the defender and the defendee are less than three yards apart when the pick occurs. You can't call a pick from across the field.) If you have to dodge around somebody to keep guarding your girl, call "PICK!!" really loudly (seriously, scream it; also if someone else on the field calls a pick, yell "PICK CALLED!" until people start paying attention). When a pick is called, play stops (though if the disc is in the air, for Frank's sake GO AFTER IT). If it was determined that the pick was involved in the play (like you called pick, and then the girl you were guarding caught the disc), the disc goes back to the thrower. Otherwise it stays where it is (if it happens to be on the ground, it's a turnover, so please try to catch the disc if you hear a pick). The defender is allowed to catch up to the offending player, the thrower taps the disc in, and play continues.

poach: When a defensive player leaves the person they were guarding and guards the throwing lane instead. This can be an effective defense, if you're fast enough to catch up to your girl when she yells "POACH!!" and busts break-side. If you're on offense and you notice your girl is poaching off you, yell "POACH!!" and bust break-side. Even if the thrower can't break the mark, you will at least get your defender clear of the throwing lane so other people can cut.

pull: The first throw of each point, where the defensive team tries to fling the disc as far down the field as possible (without going out-of-bounds or out the back of the endzone). Something I learned the hard way at my first tournament ever: if you touch the pull in any way and the disc hits the ground, it's a turnover. This is true if you try to catch the pull but drop it, if you accidentally kick it on your way down the field, or if it clonks you in the forehead. It's usually safest to just let the pull drop without trying to catch it.

push pass: A crazy awkward unreliable throw, where you hold the disc in an almost-backhand grip, then sort of push it through the air, palm forward, in the general direction of your receiver (who has to be less than three yards away if the disc is going to have any chance of reaching them). There is absolutely no reason to use this throw in a game.

push pass pull: Don't do this.

Q
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Q: I don't know any Ultimate-specific words that start with Q. I'm sorry. I hope that wasn't the only thing you were interested in.

R
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reverse bookends: When you're on offense and you throw a turnover, then you get scored on. This is bad.

ro-sham-bo: Rock-paper-scissors. Commonly used in the Ultimate community to make any sort of decision, from who gets to pull to who gets to sleep in a bed in the overcrowded hotel room. There is some debate over whether proper ro-sham-bo practice is "one-two-shoot" or "one-two-three-shoot," and this issue has yet to be conclusively settled.

road disc: A disc that is really beat up, scratched, rough around the edges, and only fit for playing flip disc on concrete or throwing in the street. You use a road disc when you don't want to ruin a game disc by skidding it across blacktop.

rosh: Short for ro-sham-bo.

rosh line: Common time-out entertainment. Players who aren't currently involved in the game form a line on the field, side-by-side. Someone starts at one end of the line and plays rock-paper-scissors with each person in the line, until they lose. When they lose they switch places with the person they lost to, and that person carries on down the line. When they reach the end they start back the other way. This continues until the end of the time-out.

S
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savage: A savage team consists of exactly seven people. This means that all seven people have to play the whole time without bringing in any subs. This is hard to do.

spirit of the game: The foundation of Ultimate Frisbee. Since Ultimate has no referees, games are self-officiated, so players have to make their own calls. This can lead to nasty arguments if there's a lack of good spirit on the field.

stack: Typical offense. Players "stack up" in a line stretching toward their endzone, and cuts generally come from the back of the stack (the end closest to their endzone).

stall count: When you catch a disc in Ultimate, you have to throw it within ten seconds or it's a turnover. It's the responsibility of whoever's guarding you to count out those ten seconds. The player on D has to be within three yards of the thrower before beginning the stall count. If they leave that radius or another person starts guarding the thrower, the stall count has to start over at zero.

strip: If someone has possession of the disc (if the disc is in their hand and has stopped rotating) and any contact by another player causes them to lose possession of the disc, that is a strip.

swill: A really bad or uncatchable throw. This term should only be employed by the thrower of the swill, because it's not a very polite thing to say about someone else's throw.

swing: A cut that moves the disc to the opposite side of the field. The purpose of this cut is to open up more space for the offense to run. A swing cut usually follows a dump cut.

T
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taco: Verb meaning to fold a disc in half. This is a common occurrence when someone throws a blade and the disc hits the ground.

travel: When you move your pivot foot while you have the disc, or when you take more than three steps after catching the disc.

turnover: A baked or deep-fried pastry full of tasty things. Also, what happens when the disc is dropped, thrown away, or caught out-of-bounds - the offense becomes the defense and vise-versa, and the new offense takes the disc where it was turned over (or at the sideline where the disc went out-of-bounds, if appropriate).

U
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Ultimate Frisbee: Not the same thing as disc golf. Really, it's not.

V
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violation: Sort of a catch-all word for illegal actions that aren't defined by a specific term (like handing off the disc instead of throwing it, or skipping the number four in a stall count). If someone did something and you're not sure what it's called, but you're pretty certain that it's not allowed, call a violation.

W
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X
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X: I don't know any words at all that start with X. Seriously. Not even xylophone. OH WAIT...

Y
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your girl: Same as "your man," but specific to women's Ultimate.

your man: The player you are guarding. As in, "Stop poaching and get on your man!"

Z
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zone: In a zone D you guard an area of the field rather than a specific person.