SPORT (a contracted or shortened form of "disport," to amuse, divert oneself, O. Fr. se disporter or deporter, to leave off work, hence to play, Lat. dis-, away, and portare, to carry; the origin of the meaning lies in the notion of turning away from serious occupations, cf. " diversion "), play, amusement, entertainment or recreation. The term was applied in early times to all forms of pastime. It was, however, particularly used of out-of-door or manly recreations, such as shooting with the bow, hunting and the like. Modern usage has given several meanings to " sport " and " sports. " Generally speaking " sport " includes the out-of-door recreations, the " fieldsports," such as fishing, shooting, fox-hunting, etc., connected with the killing or hunting of animals as opposed to organized " games, " which are contests of skill or strength played according to rules. It also includes the special class of horse-racing, the votaries of which, and also of the prize-ring, have arrogated to themselves sometimes the name of " sportsman, " applying that word even to those who follow racing simply as an occasion for betting. On the other hand, the plural " sports " is generally confined to athletic contests such as running, jumping, etc. (see ATHLETIC SPORTS and subsidiary articles).
In zoology and botany the word has a specific meaning of a sudden or singular variation from type, a " diversion " in a more etymological sense of the term.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)