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Umpire vs. Referee — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 25, 2023
An umpire oversees games, especially in sports like cricket and baseball, making decisions on rules and plays.A referee is responsible for enforcing rules and ensuring fair play in various sports, including soccer and basketball.

Difference Between Umpire and Referee

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Key Differences

Umpires mainly make decisions on specific plays and rule violations. Referees have broader authority and can make judgments on overall game conduct.
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Sep 24, 2023
Umpires are commonly associated with cricket, baseball, and tennis. Referees are often seen in soccer, basketball, and boxing.
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Sep 24, 2023
Umpires may use a range of signaling tools, like hand signals and flags. Referees often use a whistle to stop play and communicate decisions.
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Sep 24, 2023
Umpires respond to appeals from players or teams regarding specific incidents. Referees may take action based on their own observations and judgment.
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Sep 24, 2023

Comparison Chart

Meaning

Officiates games, makes play decisions
Enforces rules, ensures fair play
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Authority

Decisions on specific plays
Broader authority, monitors game flow
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Common Sports

Cricket, baseball, tennis
Soccer, basketball, boxing
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Equipment

Hand signals, flags
Whistle, cards (e.g., in soccer)
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Appeals

Responds to player/team appeals
Takes action based on own judgment
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Compare with Definitions

Umpire

Officiates cricket matches, making decisions on LBW appeals and run-outs.
The umpire raised his finger to signal the batsman's dismissal.
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Referee

Ensures fair play in soccer matches, using a whistle to stop play when needed.
The referee awarded a penalty kick after a foul in the penalty area.
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Sep 24, 2023

Umpire

Oversees baseball games, calling balls and strikes.
The umpire's strike zone determination affected the pitcher's performance.
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Sep 24, 2023

Referee

Oversees basketball games, making calls on fouls and violations.
The basketball referee signaled a three-point shot after reviewing the play.
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Sep 24, 2023

Umpire

Plays a vital role in maintaining sportsmanship during a wrestling match.
The wrestling umpire disqualified the wrestler for unsportsmanlike conduct.
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Referee

Manages the flow of a boxing match, ensuring fighters follow the rules.
The boxing referee counted to ten, declaring a knockout.
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Umpire

In tennis, ensures fair play, making rulings on disputed calls.
The umpire ruled that the ball was in, much to the dismay of the player.
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Sep 24, 2023

Referee

Monitors safety and adherence to rules in a mixed martial arts contest.
The MMA referee stepped in to stop the fight when one fighter was in trouble.
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Sep 24, 2023

Umpire

(in some sports) an official who watches a game or match closely to enforce the rules and arbitrate on matters arising from the play.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

Enforces regulations in various sports, including tennis and volleyball.
The tennis referee called a foot fault, awarding a point to the opponent.
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Sep 24, 2023

Umpire

Act as an umpire in a game or match
He could be seen regularly umpiring for the club
He umpired the World Cup final
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

A referee is an official, in a variety of sports and competition, responsible for enforcing the rules of the sport, including sportsmanship decisions such as ejection. The official tasked with this job may be known by a variety of other titles depending on the sport, including umpire, judge, arbiter (chess), commissaire, or technical official (by the International Olympic Committee).
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

(Sports) A person appointed to rule on plays, especially in baseball.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

One to whom something is referred, especially for settlement, decision, or an opinion as to the thing's quality.
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Umpire

A person appointed to settle a dispute that mediators have been unable to resolve; an arbitrator.
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Referee

Sports & Games An official supervising the play; an umpire.
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Umpire

To act as referee for; rule or judge.
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Referee

(Law) A person appointed by a court to assist a judge in the trying of a case or to hear certain types of cases.
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Umpire

To be or act as a referee or an arbitrator.
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Referee

To judge as referee.
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Umpire

The official who presides over a tennis match sat on a high chair.
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Referee

To act as referee.
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Umpire

(cricket) One of the two white-coated officials who preside over a cricket match.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

(sports) An umpire or judge; an official who makes sure the rules are followed during a game.
The referee kicked Jim out of the game for fighting.
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

(baseball) One of the officials who preside over a baseball game.
The umpire called the pitch a strike.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

A person who settles a dispute.
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Umpire

(American football) The official who stands behind the line on the defensive side or next to the referee on the offensive side.
The umpire must keep on his toes as the play often occurs around him.
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Referee

(UK) A person who writes a letter of reference or provides a reference by phone call for someone. US English: reference.
Your application, along with letters from three referees, should be received by January 31.
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

(Australian rules football) A match official on the ground deciding and enforcing the rules during play. As of 2007 the Australian Football League uses three; in the past there were two or just one. The other officials, the goal umpires and boundary umpires, are usually referred to by those phrases.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

An expert who judges the manuscript of an article or book to decide if it should be published.
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Umpire

(law) A person who arbitrates between contending parties.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

To act as a referee.
He has to referee three hockey games this weekend.
She has to finish refereeing an article for Nature.
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

(curling) The official who presides over a curling game.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

One to whom a thing is referred; a person to whom a matter in dispute has been referred, in order that he may settle it.
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Umpire

To act as an umpire in a game.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

(sports) the chief official (as in boxing or American football) who is expected to ensure fair play
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

(transitive) To decide as an umpire.
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Referee

Someone who reads manuscripts and judges their suitability for publication
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Umpire

A person to whose sole decision a controversy or question between parties is referred; especially, one chosen to see that the rules of a game, as cricket, baseball, or the like, are strictly observed.
A man, in questions of this kind, is able to be a skillful umpire between himself and others.
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Oct 04, 2019

Referee

An attorney appointed by a court to investigate and report on a case
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Umpire

A third person, who is to decide a controversy or question submitted to arbitrators in case of their disagreement.
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Referee

Be a referee or umpire in a sports competition
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

To decide as umpire; to arbitrate; to settle, as a dispute.
Judges appointed to umpire the matter in contest between them, and to decide where the right lies.
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Referee

Evaluate professionally a colleague's work
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Umpire

To perform the duties of umpire in or for; as, to umpire a game.
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

To act as umpire or arbitrator.
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

An official at a baseball game
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Oct 04, 2019

Umpire

Be a referee or umpire in a sports competition
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Umpire

Manages the game's pace and enforces rules in sports like field hockey.
The field hockey umpire issued a penalty stroke for a foul in the circle.
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Sep 24, 2023

Common Curiosities

What is the primary role of an umpire in sports?

Umpires make decisions on specific plays, including rule violations, in various sports.
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Sep 24, 2023

In which sports are umpires commonly found?

Umpires are often associated with sports like cricket, baseball, and tennis.
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Sep 24, 2023

Which sports frequently use referees as game officials?

Referees are commonly seen in sports such as soccer, basketball, and boxing.
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What equipment is commonly associated with referees in sports like soccer?

Referees use whistles and may carry cards (e.g., yellow and red cards) to indicate warnings and penalties.
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How do umpires and referees differ in terms of authority?

Umpires typically make decisions on specific plays, while referees have broader authority and oversee overall game conduct.
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What signaling tools do umpires use to communicate decisions?

Umpires often use hand signals, flags, and gestures to indicate their decisions.
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Can one person serve as both an umpire and a referee in different sports?

Yes, individuals with expertise in various sports may officiate as either umpires or referees depending on the sport.
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Sep 24, 2023

What is the importance of a referee's role in maintaining safety in combat sports like boxing and MMA?

Referees ensure the safety of fighters by monitoring their condition and stopping the fight if necessary to prevent injury.
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What is the primary responsibility of a referee during a game?

Referees are responsible for enforcing the rules, ensuring fair play, and maintaining game flow.
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How do referees ensure fair play in sports like soccer and basketball?

Referees monitor play, call fouls, and enforce the rules to maintain fair competition.
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Can a referee's decision be challenged or reviewed in sports like soccer and basketball?

In some cases, certain decisions made by referees can be challenged or reviewed using video replay technology, depending on the sport's rules.
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What is the significance of a referee's whistle in sports?

The whistle is used by referees to stop play, signal fouls, and communicate decisions to players and spectators.
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Sep 24, 2023

Are referees responsible for determining the outcome of a game, or do they solely enforce the rules?

Referees enforce the rules and ensure fair play but do not directly determine the final outcome of a game; the outcome depends on the players' performance and the score.
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Sep 24, 2023

Do umpires and referees respond to player or team appeals in the same way?

Umpires respond to appeals regarding specific incidents, while referees may take action based on their own observations and judgment.
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Sep 24, 2023

How does an umpire's role in cricket differ from that in baseball?

In cricket, the umpire makes decisions on LBW appeals, run-outs, and other aspects of the game. In baseball, the umpire calls balls and strikes.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 24, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content editor at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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