The word "soccer" comes from an alteration of "assoc.", which is an
abbreviation of "association football".
When looking for the origin of a word online, the best strategy is to
do a search for it on Google. After you do a search, e.g., for
"soccer", you will see the sentence "Searched the web for soccer" in
the blue bar right above the search results. Click on the word
'soccer' to see its definition and etymology (a note on its origin) on
A game played on a rectangular field with net goals at either end in
which two teams of 11 players each try to drive a ball into the
other's goal by kicking, heading, or using any part of the body except
the arms and hands. The goalie is the only player who may touch or
move the ball with the arms or hands.
[From alteration of assoc., abbreviation of association football.]"
On Dictionary.com, at the bottom of the screen you'll see a link to
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Click on it to see an
etymology including the approximate date when the word was first used:
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
"Main Entry: soc·cer
Etymology: by shortening & alteration from association football
: a game played on a field between two teams of 11 players each with
the object to propel a round ball into the opponent's goal by kicking
or by hitting it with any part of the body except the hands and arms
-- called also association football"
For more detailed etymologies, go to Etymology Online:
"soccer - 1889, socca, later socker (1891), soccer (1895), originally
university slang, from a shortened form of assoc., abbreviation of
association in Football Association (as opposed to Rugby football)."
Wordorigins.org provides detailed etymologies for a limited list of
Soccer is an abbreviation for Association Football. The Football
Association was formed in London in October 1863 when representatives
of eleven clubs and schools met in an attempt to standardize the rules
of the game. One of the rules prohibited the carrying of the ball, a
rule that would lead to the Rugby-oriented clubs leaving the
Association several months later. The name Association Football was
coined to distinguish it from Rugby.
By 1889, the abbreviation socca' was in use, and the spelling soccer
had made its appearance by 1895."
Football-related sites, such as the Association of Football
Statistician's site ( http://www.innotts.co.uk/~soccerstats/ ),
provide some interesting accounts of the history of "soccer":
"Why the word "soccer"?
We have to thank the students of the 1880s for the word "soccer". It
seems it was the practice amonst the well bred students of Oxford to
abbreviate words whilst adding "er" to the end; "brekkers" for
breakfast for example.
On asked if he wanted to play "rugger" (i.e. the "rugby rules") a
student replied "no, soccer", an abbreviation of "association", or the
"association rules", i.e. the rules of the Football Association in
"Footer" was also used, but could have referred to either code.
David Pickering's "Soccer Companion" (Cassell, 1994) names the student
as Charles Wreford Brown, later an England international and F.A.
Hope this was helpful!