Vocabulary, Slang and Definitions

25 Random Essential Billiards Terms

This is what happens when a player sends the cue ball into a cluster of balls that will in turn spread out in an unpredictable fashion.
Also called a rake. A special stick with a grooved, slotted or otherwise supportive end attachment that helps guide the cue stick - a stand-in for the bridge hand. It is usually used only when the shot cannot be comfortably reached with a hand bridge. Often shortened to bridge or called a bridge stick. An entire class of different mechanical bridges exist for snooker, called rests (see that entry for details), also commonly used in blackball and English billiards.
Chiefly American: Also known as side spin, english (which is usually not capitalized) 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. "English" is sometimes used more inclusively, to colloquially also refer to follow and draw. In combination one could say bottom-right english, or like the face of a clock (4 o'clock english). The British and Irish do not use this term, instead preferring "side".
A foul where the rules are blatantly, intentionally violated, with a stiffer penalty (e.g., loss of game) than normal.
The game of snooker. This is a very demanding game that isn't played as often in the U.S. as it is in other countries. The table needed is slightly larger, and there are 15 red object balls needed in addition to six color balls. After the balls are set up according to the rules, play resumes in turns with points scored as one on each red ball, and as is denoted with each other colored ball sunk. This is a challenging game that demands skill and excellent execution.
To leave the opponent (accidentally or by means of a safety) so that a certain shot on a preferred object ball cannot be played directly in a straight line by normal cueing. It most commonly means that the object ball cannot be hit, because it is hidden by another ball or, more rarely, the knuckle of a pocket (see corner-hooked). It can also refer to the potting angle or another significant point of contact on the object ball, blocking an otherwise more straightforward shot, even if an edge can be seen. A common related adjective describing a player in this situation is snookered. Also known as "to hook", for which the corresponding adjective "hooked" is also common. See also free ball.
An instance of this situation (e.g. "she's put him in a difficult snooker"). A player can choose a range of shots to get out of a snooker; usually a kick shot will be implemented but semi-massés are often preferred, and in games where it is not a foul, jump shots may be employed that often yield good results for skilled players. "Snooker" is used loosely (when used at all; "hook" is favored) in the US, but has very specific definitions and subtypes (such as the total snooker) in blackball.
A tournament format in which each contestant plays each of the other contestants at least once. In typical league team play, round robin format means that each member of the home team plays each member of the visiting team once. This format is used by BCAPL, VNEA and many other leagues.
A combination shot, where hitting the first ball rubs it against the center connecting line of two frozen object balls throwing the second out.
In certain carom billiards games, any shot in which the cue ball is sucessfully caromed off an object ball to strike another object ball (with or without contacting cushions in the interim) is a considered a billiards shot.
The pocket in snooker that is closest to the green spot.
Any game which uses a rack composed of less than 15 balls.
Also lady's aid or girly stick. A denigrating term for the mechanical bridge.
When the object balls in straight rail pool are lined up close to each other, but extending out from the cushion, and you choose to bounce off the first object ball at the cushion and then come back to graze the second object ball. This technique can be used to continue scoring points as long as you are efficient with the shot.
This is a table that offers poor conditions for play; it is either dirty, wet, or overall poor quality.
This is to execute a shot where the cue ball is controlled perfectly and stops where you want it to exactly.
A very thin cut shot in which the cue ball just brushes the edge of an object ball. "Feather" by itself can be both noun and verb (e.g. "feathering the ball").
This is the highest number of consecutive points scored during an inning of continuous pool play.
Sometimes interchangeable with scratch, 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.
The rules played in a particular venue not necessarily in comportment with official rules, or with common local bar pool custom.
A 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 (see illustration at that article) but is not strictly necessary, as the front of a larger rack can be used, or the balls can be arranged by hand.
The object balls in triangular formation, before the break shot, after being racked. See also pyramid.
When the contact between the cue ball and object ball is dead center.
When the object ball banked of a rail goes directly in a pocket without kissing or touching any other object balls.
Also tiptool, tip-tool. Any of a class of maintenance tools for cue tips, including shapers, scuffers, mushroom trimmers, tappers, burnishers and tip clamps. Road, league and tournament players often carry an array of tip tools in their cases. The term is generally not applied to cue chalk.
The full fifteen ball set of pool or snooker object balls after being racked, before the break shot (i.e., same as rack, definition 2, and triangle, defn. 2). Chiefly British today, but also an American usage ca. World War I.
To "give someone weight" is to give them a handicap so the game is more even in skill level. If one player is significantly better than the other in a game, then you can add some weight, more or less balls for someone, to even the difficulty load between each player.
A common aiming method in which a phantom ball is imagined frozen to the object ball at the point where an imaginary line drawn between their centers is aimed at the desired target; the cue ball may then be shot at the center of the "ghost" ball and, ideally, impact the object ball at the proper aiming contact point. The ghost ball method of aiming results in misses where adjustment is not made for collision induced throw.