Term often mostly in sports
to refer to one team
preventing their opponent
from scoring a single point
, or goal
(depending on the sport).
In baseball, shutouts are fairly common, with a few a week or so. With the offensive explosion in recent years, the shutout's a bit rarer than it used to be. And with the increase of use in relief pitchers, shutouts by individual pitchers are even rarer.
Grover Cleveland Alexander (in 1916) and George Bradley (in 1876) hold the single-season record with 16 shutouts. Walter Johnson holds the career record with 110 shutouts (by comparison, the active leader through 2002, is Roger Clemens, with just 45).
In American football, shutouts are rarer. Even if the team's defense plays a flawless game, if the offense fumbles or throws an interception in their own territory, the shutout could be broken up. Whereas in baseball, a dominant pitcher can shutout even great teams, in football shutouts are more a combination of a good defense, a lousy opponent's offense, and some luck.
In ice hockey, shutouts are fairly common and are generally the result of a goalie playing a great game (or "standing on his head"). The NHL single season record is 22, by George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens in 1928-1929. Dominik Hasek's 13 in 1997-1998 was the most in the last 30 years. The career record is 103, held by Terry Sawchuk.
In soccer, shutouts are generally called "clean sheets".