The words ‘find’ and ‘break’ appear in the following football (soccer) context, in a manner that does not seem to correspond to any dictionary definitions I can find:

“Off the post! Another brilliant Chelsea break as Willian finds Hazard who then helps it on to Alonso, his cross is perfect but Giroud's strike crashes against the post! So close.”

(Taken from Chelsea FC’s Twitter feed)

The primary dictionary definition of find is to discover, which doesn’t seem fit in a football context:

  1. Discover or perceive by chance or unexpectedly

And that of break is to destroy:

  1. Separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain.

So I am unclear of what these words mean in a sporting context.


I’d also be interested to know what is meant by “Off the post!”.

  • Could you show your research, please? Mar 27, 2018 at 19:07
  • Here mobile.twitter.com/ChelseaFC/status/972546380844752898 this is soccer, I'm confused by the words, so could you tell me what they mean? Mar 27, 2018 at 19:15
  • Thanks and could you at least show how you understand at least two or three different dictionaries to explain those words, and why their explanations are confusing? You mighty be comfortable asking your Question somewhere such as English Language Learners. Mar 27, 2018 at 19:24
  • OK, let me try. I thought "find" means to discover, but it doesn't seem fit in football context. And "break" to me means to destroy. That's why I'm confused by the literal meanings that look different when used in soccer term. Mar 27, 2018 at 19:41
  • 2
    Thanks and sorry but you need to consider at least two or three meaning of each of the words themselves, and then look at them in context, or ask in another forum. If it helps you, what exactly is unclear about "Off the post", please? Mar 27, 2018 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


Specialist sports vocabulary is difficult for outsiders and these meanings are not necessarily to be found in dictionaries, so I think the use of the terms ‘find’ and ‘break’ justifies an answer.


This is used here to mean ‘reach’ in the sense of “Arrive at; get as far as”, but with the unspoken implication that it is the ball that one player has kicked that is reaching the other player, and that the other player has sucessfully received and controlled it.

It is quite difficult to find this meaning in dictionaries. Chambers online doesn’t really gives this meaning in its example but my Chambers iPhone has meaning 8 of 8 as:

To manage to reach, hit, land on, etc.

The nearest the Oxford Dictionary online has is:

3.2 (of a letter) reach (someone).

As well as a ball ‘finding’ a player in sports, it can also find an object, e.g.

“Halfpenny found touch.”

Leigh Halfpenny — a Welsh rugby player — managed to kick the ball over the touch line.

“Griffiths found the net.”

Leigh Griffiths — a Scottish football player — scored a goal. (The goal in professional Association Football generally has a net behind it.)


This is used here in the sense of ‘breakaway’. Actually the Oxford Dictionary online does list an example of this meaning of break:

  1. (chiefly of an attacking player or team, or of a military force) make a rush or dash in a particular direction.

‘Mitchell won possession and broke quickly, allowing Hughes to score’

It generally occurs when a team that has been defending under pressure is suddenly able to break out and attack under conditions where the opposing team has few players remaining in defense.

Off the post!: is different in kind, as it is just a contraction of a sentence such as

“The ball hit the goal post, but unfortunately did not deflect into the net for a goal, but back into the field of play (or out of play, behind the goal line).”

The context indicates that a goal was not scored, although without this context it would be unclear whether or not the ball deflected into the net for a goal.

  • 1
    Right, except off the post means: "the ball bounced off the post after being kicked". Non-native speakers understandably have trouble with these as the implied phrases are simply not stated. Please note: a ball can bounce off of anything: off the post, off the player, off his hand. Etc. By the way, these are not just "soccer" terms: this idea of bouncing OFF the post or something else could be used in any game with a ball: bounce off the basket, and even golf: the ball bounced off the tree and onto the green. :) I'm upvoting though for find and break.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 13:58
  • @Lambie — Agreed. "Off the post! is different in nature to find and break. In fact "find" is the most difficult to get from a dictionary. I'll reorganize to reflect this.
    – David
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:42
  • I agreed with both of those and was just clarifying "off" the post. Re find: Willian finds Hazard=Willian passes the ball to Hazard. This kind of usage is common in Spanish. I just checked that with an ex-pro player. Possibly, the OP is not so football conversant. (I say football, even though I am American).
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:53

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