x's and o's

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x's and o's

1. sports The symbols used to denote the players on one's team (and usually those of the opposing team) in a diagram of a play (i.e., the formation the players will take when trying to score or move the ball). The term often refers to the plays themselves. That coach is great with the x's and o's, but the team's execution has been very disappointing.
2. By extension, knowledge of how something works. Before you start on that report, call Shelly—she knows all the x's and o's of the budget.
See also: and
References in periodicals archive ?
If the subject is not Xs and Os, for which his answers are brief and rote, he is thoughtful and engaging.
If you go out for dinner with Russell, expect to draw up some Xs and Os on paper napkins and talk some football,'' Williams said.
I've really tried to get to know the players,'' said Dorrell, who admitted he spent too much time on Xs and Os in his first year.
Of all that's happened the past three seasons, the comic-in-the-booth experiment might actually have been the more inspired, and could have worked if Miller didn't react to all the media criticism and started trying to spew Xs and Os like Bill Walsh.
But most of all, when I tune in on Monday nights, I'd rather hear Dennis Miller talking X and Y chromosomes than Xs and Os.
Jim Milhon taught me that people are more important than Xs and Os,'' Ponciano says, recalling the words of the former Azusa Pacific coach who gave him his start.
For a time they were all images burned into his brain, Xs and Os dancing in his head with no particular chalkboard to put them on, no team captain to relay them to the others.
John Kentera, XTRA weeknights: ``The coach,'' once known around the XTRA offices as ``the janitorial engineer,'' may claim to know Xs and Os.