Ball-and-Pocket- Same as call-shot game, in which players must call their shot before they take their shot.

Ball-in-Hand- 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

Bank- Same as a rail or cushion.

Bed- Flat Surface of a pool table where play takes place. 

Break- In many pool games it describes the first shot, which is used to separate the pool table balls which have been racked together.

Bridge- Either the player's hand or a mechanical bridge used to support the shaft end of the pool cue stick during a shot.

Bumper- The pool cue 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.

Butt Cap- A protective cap mounted on the end of the butt of a cue.

Call-Safe (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". 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).

Carom- Any type of strike and rebound off a pool table rail cushion or especially a ball.

Center String- The (usually unmarked) line bisecting the centers of the two long rails (and of the side pockets if any) and the center spot. It thus runs widthwise (i.e. the short way) across the center of the table. 

Cloth- The baize pool table 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-colored, chosen for its evocation of grass. Sometimes cloth is referred to as pool table felt.

Combination- 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. In the UK this is often referred to as a plant.

Corner Pocket- Any of the four pool table pockets in each corner of a pool table.

Cross-Corner- A pool bank shot that rebounds from a cushion into a corner pocket across the table.

Cross-Side- A bank shot that rebounds from a cushion and into a side pocket

1.  Noun: Also cue stick. A stick, usually around 55-60" in length with a cue stick 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.
2.  Noun: Sometimes "cue" is short for cue ball.

Cue Ball- Also cue-ball, cueball. The ball in nearly any cue sport, typically white in color that a player strikes with a cue stick. Sometimes referred to as the "white ball", "whitey" or "the rock".

Cushion- The elastic bumpers mounted on all rails of a billiards table, usually made from rubber or synthetic rubber, from which the balls rebound.

Diamond- One of a number of identical markings, usually inlaid into the surface above the pool table rail cushions, used as target or reference points. Three equally spaced diamonds are normally between each pocket on a pool table.

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 from the cushion or object ball.

Double Kiss- A situation in which a ball strikes another ball which is close to a rail and the struck ball rebounds back into the ball it was hit by; usually but not always unintended. 

Drop Pockets- Netted or cupped pool table pockets that do not return the balls to the foot end of the table by means of a gutter system or sloped surface beneath (they must instead be retrieved manually).

Eight-ball- The use of a rack of fifteen object balls and a single cue ball, a hard break from behind the head string, and a goal of pocketing all of one's own suit of balls then finally the black 8 ball

End Rail- Either of the two shorter rails of a billiards or pocket billiards table.

English- Chiefly American: Also known as side spin, english 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.

Face- Also cushion face.  The protrusion of the playing edge of the cushion from the rail over the bed of the table. The furthest-protruding point of the face is known as the nose of the cushion. The playing area of the pool table is the space between the faces (technically, the noses) of the cushions.

Facing- 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 table cushion 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 pool table cushion rubber and the cloth, to reduce wear and tear.

Felt- Same as pool table cloth- It is factually incorrect, as felt is a completely different kind of cloth from baize.

Ferrule- A pool cue ferrule is 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 (using cement glue for cue tips) and which protects the shaft wood from splitting due to impact with the cue ball.

Foot- Chiefly American: The half of the table in which the object balls are racked using a pool ball rack.

Foot Spot- The point on the pool 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 pool table dot sticker.

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.

Foul- Sometimes interchangeable with scratching the cueball, 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.

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 with pool table dots 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.

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. 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).

Irish Linen- Linen made from flax and produced in Ireland which is often used to wrap the gripping area of the butt of a cue. These will often be called 'Linen Wrapped Cues'.

Joint- The interlocking connection between the butt and shaft ends of a two-piece cue stick. Usually connects via means of a steel or wooden pin, and may be protected by a collar of metal or some other material, or may connect wood-on-wood.

Jump- Also jump shot. Any shot where the cue ball is intentionally jumped into the air to clear an obstacle (usually an object ball, even in games with non-ball objects, e.g. bottle pool). Jump shots must be performed by hitting the cue ball into the table's surface so that it rebounds from the cloth.

Kiss Shot- A shot in which the object is to pocket an object ball by striking it with the cue ball and then having the object ball ricochet off another object ball into a pocket.

Kitchen- The area on the table behind the head string. The origin of the term has been the subject of some speculation but the best explanation known is that in the 1800s, many homes did not have room for both a billiard table and a dining room table. The solution was a billiards table that had a pool table cover converting it into a dining table. Kept in the dining room, play on such a table was often restricted by the size of the room (especially if you had an official sized pool table), so it would be placed so that the head rail would face the connected kitchen door, thus affording a player room for the backswing without hitting a wall. A player was therefore either half or sometimes fully (literally) "in the kitchen" when breaking the balls.

Lag- Also the lag (as a noun) lagging, lag for the break and lagging for the break. To determine the order of play, players (representing only themselves, or sometimes teams) each near simultaneously shoot a ball from the kitchen to the end rail and back toward the bottom rail. Whichever shooter's ball comes to rest closest to the bottom rail gets to choose who breaks. It is permissible but not required for the lagged ball to touch or rebound from the bottom rail, but not to touch the side rails. Lagging is usually a two-party activity, though there are games such as cutthroat in which three players might lag. In the case of a tie, the tying shooters re-lag. The lag is most often used in tournament play or other competitions. In hard-break billiard games like nine-ball and eight-ball the winner of the lag would normally take the break, while in soft-break games like straight pool would likely require the loser of the lag to break, since breaking would be a disadvantage.

Leave- The cue ball's position after a shot. "Good" or "bad" in reference to a leave describe respectively and advantageous or disadvantageous position for the next shot, or to leave an incoming opponent safe.

Magnetic Cue Ball- A cue ball that, due to embedded iron content, is responsive enough to a strong magnet that a modern coin-operated bar table with a magnetic ball-return mechanism can distinguish and separate the cue ball from the object balls. Magnetic cue balls are usually the same standard size as the rest of the pool table ball set, and near regulation weight, typically 0.5 to 1 ounce (14–28 g) heavier than the object balls. As such they do not suffer the playability problems of either excessively dense, ceramic "rock" or notable oversized "grapefruit" cue balls, and demonstrate only minimal smash-through. Magnetic balls are standard equipment in some leagues, but not all. Magnetics come in three construction types of iron embedded in the same phenolic resin or other modern, resilient plastic that the object balls are made of: a solid metal core (prone to being off-center and not rolling true); small metal bars distributed around the interior of the ball (the most common, and less prone but not immune to balance defects); and tiny metal filings throughout the material (the most consistent, only made by one manufacturer, and expensive).

Miscue- A stroke in which the cue's tip glances or slips off the cue ball not effectively transferring the intended force. Usually the result is a bungled shot. Common causes include a lack of pool cue chalk on the cue tip, a poorly groomed cue tip and not stroking straight through the cue ball, e.g. because of steering. If this is a common problem there are pool cue tip repair kits available to make your sticks hit like new again!

Nap- A directional pile created by the short fuzzy ends of fibers on the surface of cloth projecting upward from the lie and which create a favorable and unfavorable direction for rolling balls. Nap can be affected by the table being brushed with a pool table brush. Most table cloth in North America is woven and will not have directional nap- in these cases the 'nap' refers to the fuzzy appearance of the cloth. Proline pool table cloth and Simonis pool table cloth are good examples of cloth found on tables in North America.

Object Ball- Any ball that may be legally struck by the cue ball.

Peas- Also pills, tally balls and shake balls. Pool Table Peas are Small, round markers typically numbered 1 through 16, which are placed in a pea pool shaker bottle for various random assignment purposes, such as in a tournament roster, to assign order of play in a multiplayer game, or to assign particular balls to players in games such as Pea Pool or Kelly Pool game.

Push Out- As an adjective or compound noun: push-out. A rule in many games (most notably nine-ball pool game, after and only after the break shot), allowing a player to "push out" the cue ball to a new position without having to contact any ball, much less pocket one or drive it to a cushion, but not counting any pocketed ball as valid (other foul rules apply, such as double hits, scratching the cue ball, etc.), with the caveat that the opponent may shoot from the new cue ball position or give the shot back to the pusher who must shoot from the new position.

1.  A geometric form, usually aluminum, wooden or plastic, used to assist in setting up balls in pool table games like American eight-ball, nine-ball, and snooker. The rack allows for more consistently tight grouping of balls, which is necessary for a successful break shot. In most games a triangle-shaped rack capable of holding fifteen balls can be employed, even if the game calls for racking less than a full ball set, such as in the game of nine-ball. You can also purchase a pool table nine ball rack for this purpose. 
2.  Used to refer to a racked group of balls before they have been broken.
3.  In some games, refers to a single frame.

Re-rack- Placing of the object balls back in the rack, after a foul break in a pool table game.

1.  An intentional defensive shot, the most common goal of which is to leave the opponent either no plausible shot at all, or at least a difficult one.
2.  A shot that is called aloud as part of a pool game's rules; once invoked, a safety usually allows the player to pocket his or her own object ball without having to shoot again, for strategic purposes.

Scratch- Pocketing of the cue ball, in pocket billiards games. In most games, a scratch is a type of foul. "Scratch" (also known as "sewering the cue ball") is sometimes used less precisely to refer to all types of fouls.

Shaft- The upper portion of a pool cue stick which slides on a player's bridge hand and upon which the tip of the cue is mounted at its terminus. It also applies to the main, unsegmented body of a mechanical bridge.

Shaper- A pool cue Shaper is a highly abrasive tip tool used to shape an unreasonably flat new cue tip, or misshapen old one, into a more usable, consistently curved profile, most commonly the curvature of a nickel or dime (or equivalently sized non-US/Canadian coin) for larger and smaller pool cue tips, respectively. Similar to a pool cue tip scuffer, but deeper and rougher.

Slate- The heavy, finely milled rock (slate) that forms the bed of the pool table, beneath the cloth. Major slate suppliers for the billiards industry are Italy, Brazil and China. Some cheaper tables, and novelty tables designed for outdoor use, do not use genuine slate beds.

Slop- A luck shot. Also slop shot

Sneaky Pete- A two-piece pool cue stick constructed to resemble a house pool cue, with a near-invisible wood-to-wood joint. The subterfuge often enables a hustler to temporarily fool unsuspecting opponent into thinking that he or she is an unskilled banger with no regard for finesse or equipment quality. Many league players also use cheap but solid Sneaky Petes as their break cues.

Spin- Rotational motion applied to a ball, especially to the cue ball by the tip of the cue, although if the cue ball is itself rotating it will impart (opposite) spin (in a lesser amount) to a contacted object ball. Types of spin include top spin, bottom or back spin (also known as draw or screw), and left and right side spin, all with widely differing and vital effects. Collectively they are often referred to in American English as "english".

1.  The motion of the cue stick and the player's arm on a shot.
2.  The strength, fluidity and finesse of a player's pool shooting technique; "she has a good stroke."

1.  A pool ball rack in the form of an equilateral triangle. There are different sizes of triangles for racking different games (which use different ball sizes and numbers of balls), including the fifteen ball racks for snooker and various pool games such as eight-ball and blackball. A larger triangle is used for the twenty-one ball rack for baseball pocket billiards. The smallest triangle rack is employed in three-ball but is not strictly necessary, as the front of a larger rack can be used, or the balls can be arranged by hand.
2.  The object balls in triangular formation, before the break shot, after being racked as above

Glossary of cue sports terms. (2019, July 10). Retrieved July 10, 2019, from


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