n. & v.
n. 1 an area of open land, esp. one used for pasture or crops, often bounded by hedges, fences, etc. 2 an area rich in some natural product (gas field; diamond field). 3 a piece of land for a specified purpose, esp. an area marked out for games (football field). 4 a the participants in a contest or sport. b all the competitors in a race or all except those specified. 5 Cricket a the side fielding. b a fielder. 6 an expanse of ice, snow, sea, sky, etc. 7 a the ground on which a battle is fought; a battlefield (left his rival in possession of the field). b the scene of a campaign. c (attrib.) (of artillery etc.) light and mobile for use on campaign. d a battle. 8 an area of operation or activity; a subject of study (each supreme in his own field). 9 a the region in which a force is effective (gravitational field; magnetic field). b the force exerted in such an area. 10 a range of perception (field of view; wide field of vision; filled the field of the telescope). 11 Math. a system subject to two operations analogous to those for the multiplication and addition of real numbers. 12 (attrib.) a (of an animal or plant) found in the countryside, wild (field mouse). b carried out or working in the natural environment, not in a laboratory etc. (field test). 13 a the background of a picture, coin, flag, etc. b Heraldry the surface of an escutcheon or of one of its divisions. 14 Computing a part of a record, representing an item of data.
v. 1 Cricket, Baseball , etc. a intr. act as a fieldsman. b tr. stop (and return) (the ball). 2 tr. select (a team or individual) to play in a game. 3 tr. deal with (a succession of questions etc.). field-book a book used in the field by a surveyor for technical notes. field-cornet S.Afr. hist. a minor magistrate. field-day 1 wide scope for action or success; a time occupied with exciting events (when crowds form, pickpockets have a field-day). 2 Mil. an exercise, esp. in manoeuvring; a review. 3 a day spent in exploration, scientific investigation, etc., in the natural environment. field events athletic sports other than races (e.g. shot-putting, jumping, discus-throwing). field-glasses binoculars for outdoor use. field goal US Football & Basketball a goal scored when the ball is in normal play. field hockey US = HOCKEY(1). field hospital a temporary hospital near a battlefield. Field Marshal Brit. an army officer of the highest rank. field mouse a small rodent, Apodemus sylvaticus, with beady eyes, prominent ears, and a long tail. field mushroom the edible fungus Agaricus campestris. field mustard charlock. field officer an army officer of field rank. field of honour the place where a duel or battle is fought. field rank any rank in the army above captain and below general. field sports outdoor sports, esp. hunting, shooting, and fishing. field telegraph a movable telegraph for use on campaign. hold the field not be superseded. in the field 1 campaigning. 2 working etc. away from one's laboratory, headquarters, etc. keep the field continue a campaign. play the field colloq. avoid exclusive attachment to one person or activity etc. take the field 1 begin a campaign. 2 (of a sports team) go on to a pitch to begin a game.
[ OE feld f. WG ]