to tackle — "to seize" or only "to fight" ?


Senior Member
Good day!

One of "to tackle" definitions:
to tackle — to seize, take hold of, or grapple with especially with the intention of stopping or subduing
to tackle — to deal with somebody who is violent or threatening you
to tackle — to start fighting someone, especially a criminal

(1) The police officer tackled him as he tried to escape.
Can we say the police officer seized him
we can only say that the police officer fought him and we don't know the result?
(2) He tackled a masked intruder at his home.
Can we say he seized a masked intrunder
we can only say that he fought a masked intrunder and we don't know the result?

  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Tackle" gives no clue to the outcome, but other parts of the sentence might. In sentence (1), the addition of "tried to" very strongly suggests that the attempt to escape was unsuccessful. Without any other information, the inference is that the police officer managed to detain him. There aren't any clues in (2) so we cannot tell either way.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    In a textual account, I would expect to be informed of the success of the 'tackle' before reading these sentences. Something like "A masked intruder was arrested ... . He had been tackled by police as he tried to escape ... "
    When I read 'tackled', I too imagine a physical engagement, like a rugger tackle (the British ball game rugby). The police officer stopped the burglar escaping by throwing themself on him, grabbing hold of his leg or legs.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Note: this is different from the metaphorical meaning "to start working on".

    In this meaning, "tackle" is a sports term, which means "physical grab and wrestle to the ground". It means to take someone who is standing up and force them to lie down.

    It does not mean "to fight". In American football and in soccer, players "tackle" opponents constantly, but they are not allowed to fight.

    This common sports action can be used in other situations:
    - A policeman may tackle (grab and wrestle to the ground) a criminal that the policeman is chasing.
    - Friends (especially children) often tackle friends, as part of rough playing.
    - The wrestler tried to tackle his opponent.

    we can only say that the police officer fought him and we don't know the result?
    The "tackle" is only a brief action ("take down" or "wrestle to the ground"). We know the result: he is on the ground. We don't know what happens after that. If this is part of a fight, we don't know all the other things that happen in the fight, or the result of the fight.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    In BrE, I would not have said that "tackle" automatically suggests wrestling to the ground, and that the meaning is more "grapple with" than "bring down". However, in either case, there is nothing within the word to say whether the person tackled eventually escaped or not.
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