Vocabulary, Slang and Definitions

25 Random Essential Billiards Terms

A pool table spread in which the balls are extremely easily positioned for a run out, and where little movement of the cue ball on each shot is necessary to obtain position on the next.
To bungle a shot in a manner that leaves the table in a fortuitous position for the opponent. Contrast sell the farm.
When a ball is in firm contact with a cushion or another ball.
This is the state after which the person returning the break has had the opportunity to catch and even the field after the breakers advantage.
This is a handicapping method where one player gets the break, and is allowed to choose any ball afterwards to put in their pocket.
A tournament format in which a player must lose two matches in order to be eliminated.
This is a term used in slang to reference the bridge tool.
Also known as slop. To pocket a ball by luck; "he ratted in the 9 ball"; usually employed disapprovingly.
When two or more object balls are frozen or nearly frozen, 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.
Given to the opposite player after a scratch on the cue ball has been played. This means the player with the cue ball in hand can position it wherever on the table he pleases. Sometimes there are restrictions as to where on the table the ball can be placed: in the kitchen, within the half circle, within the D. This is also known as cue ball in hand.
The desired angle that must be created between the path of the cue ball and the path of the object ball upon contact to pot the object ball. It is usually measured to the center of the pocket. See also 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.
This refers to the distance of deflection that the ball comes off of the cue stick after a hit is applied with side spin on it.
Hitting the object ball with too large of a cut angle; hitting the object ball too thin. It is a well-known maxim that overcutting is preferable to undercutting in many situations, as is more often leaves the table in a disadvantageous position on the miss than does an undercut. See also professional side of the pocket.
This is the raised portion on the side of the table; the cushions are essentially rubber bumpers covered in the table cloth.
A bridge formed by the hand where no finger loops over the shaft of the cue. Typically, the cue stick is channeled by a "v"-shaped groove formed by the thumb and the base of the index finger.
Billiard Congress of America. The official governing body for pocket billiards in the United States.
When the cue ball is tucked behind the corner of a pocket, therefore not allowing a direct shot at the object ball.
The surface of the table used for play (often made with slate).
Failure to hit an object ball at all with the cue ball. In most sets of rules, this is a foul like any other. However, in some variants of bar pool a table scratch while shooting for the 8 ball is a loss of game where other more minor fouls might not be, as is scratching on the 8 ball (neither result in a loss of game in most professional rules).
By way of drift from the above definition, the term is also applied by many league players to the foul in more standardized rules of failing to drive a (any) ball to a cushion, or to pocket a legal object ball, after the cue ball's initial contact with an object ball.
By way of entirely different derivation ("scratch off the table"), it can also mean knocking the cue ball (or more loosely, any ball) completely off the table.
Also straight eight-ball. Same as bar pool. Not to be confused with the games of straight pool or straight rail.
This describes a shot in snooker where the cue contacts more than one object ball.
This is a shot involving contact between the cue ball and an object ball which allows the cue ball to contact another object in order to sink a pocket with the second object ball.
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.
This is a player who has the ability to make difficult shots in one pocket, because they are likely proficient at other pool games first.