Why don't dictionaries include what is, in my opinion, the most common meaning of the word "punt", which is to "(strategically) give up"

They punted on the hard problem.

Neither Oxford's, nor M-W list this meaning. In fact, M-W lists ten different meanings, many of which I never encountered.

  • 2
    I've never heard it mean "give up". That sentence to me would imply that they took some speculative approach to solving the problem. What sources use it in the way you suggest? Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 4:24
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    In my English zone, the most common meaning (noun) is a flat boat used on a river, propelled and steered using a pole, other meanings include 'bet', and 'shove or push across'. So MaxB, your "opinion" is not valid everywhere. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 6:41
  • But American Heritage has your meaning ("Football" definition). It's one of those words where context and region can impact meaning. To "take a punt" can mean to "give something a go" or "to dropkick a football". I always assumed the football meaning was that they were a long way from the goal and they dropkicked the ball hoping to get lucky, but apparently it really is just a drop kick.
    – Pam
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 10:36
  • I don't think of "punt" in this context as meaning to give up, but to postpone. (Similar to "kicking the can down the road.") I am surprised this meaning is not in the dictionary, but I think it is a metaphor based on the boating meaning: pushing the problem away.
    – user323578
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 10:55
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    I've heard punt used not to delay per se, but to pass a problem onto somebody else. As in I decided to punt it to somebody else. Or they punted it back and forth. It has the same effect of delaying a solution (because it's not being dealt with directly) but it doesn't mean delay in an explicit sense,. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 13:15


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