Since the verb Rematar consists of re + matar, and most of the definitions concerning it define it as either "finishing off" or completing a sale, how did it come to be used in Football as remate when a team sets up and takes a shot at the goal?

Is there an etymology to explain this usage?

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    Aparte de remate, en español hay un montón de metáforas de la guerra en el deporte: cañonero, capitán, justa deportiva, tiro, disparo, la armada española, estocada, escuadra, retaguardia, contraataque, el Bombardero Valenciano, el Matador Salas, Cañoncito Pum, el Misil Restrepo, el Tanque Pavone, el Torpedo Muller, el Rifle Pandiani...
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:44
  • @Rodrigo muy interesante, y merece ser ampliado como respuesta. Graciás por su comentario. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:53
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    De nada, pero la verdad no amerita como respuesta porque me he dado cuenta de que rematar ya tiene el significado de "terminar" tan atrás como en el año 1220, según el Diccionario Etimológico de Corominas. O sea que realmente nadie está pensando en "matar" cuando patea una pelota (y los ejemplos del comentario anterior solo quedan como curiosidad). Puede ser, en cambio, que el inglés shot sí sea una metáfora bélica.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 0:04
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    I don't really get the question. You say that rematar is finishing off, but seem to be asking why in football the word rematar is used for finishing off a play. Where is the problem?
    – Gorpik
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 10:34
  • @Gorpik "Finishing off" as in the tiro de gracia, literally killing. I didn't draw a connection, but perhaps someone who has been listening to football matches all their life has never seen any incongruity in that. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 11:51

2 Answers 2


Rematar has several meanings, one of them is shooting at the goal in football. It's even there in the link you posted:

  1. tr. En el fútbol y otros deportes, dar término a una serie de jugadas lanzando el balón hacia la meta contraria.

Of course like in many other examples, there are synonyms for that word:

Tirar, lanzar, patear, chutar (in some countries this is used as chutear)

Are perfectly valid synonyms for the same word.

So you can say either:

El jugador no consiguió rematar a portería durante todo el tiempo que estuvo en la cancha, por lo que no fue sorpresa que lo cambiaran en el segundo tiempo.

El jugador no consiguió tirar a portería durante todo el tiempo que estuvo en la cancha, por lo que no fue sorpresa que lo cambiaran en el segundo tiempo.

El jugador no consiguió lanzar a portería durante todo el tiempo que estuvo en la cancha, por lo que no fue sorpresa que lo cambiaran en el segundo tiempo.

I have found an article in the Wikipedia where they talk about the origins of football. In the beginning it was a very violent game, so I believe the terms of shooting is because of this extremly violent game, where the rivals were seen as sort of enemies. It was kind of a little war I believe, so maybe that's the origin of the usage of those words in football.

  • I know it's in the link, but I am wondering about how this became a usage. It has only the one definition for a particular sport. I have never seen a football match in English, and have no idea what the equivalent expression would be. Is it like "going in for the kill"? Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:02
  • In english is shoot. In spanish you can even say disparar a portería. I have heard sometimes in a football match where they say misilazo for referring to a powerful shot. I have found a nice article, I will update my answer. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:08
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    @Gandalf The interpretation is something like this: when the player closes to the goal, the goalkeeper is already dead, because the score is imminet. Hence, the shot is called remate because it's like killing twice the goalkeeper.
    – Schwale
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:11
  • muy amable, graciás. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:12
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    The problem with some of these suggestions is that they are all very violent and war-like whereas most of the meanings in the DRAE entry are more neutral (especially the meaning to tie off a thread).
    – mdewey
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 12:45

I think it's case of shift in meaning. A series of plays approaching the goal would reach its conclusion (remate) with a shoot to goal. Later, the meaning shifted to any hard hit or shoot that could win in the play. Nowadays it's used with that meaning in almost every ball sport.

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