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[bohl] /boʊl/
one of the balls, having little or no bias, used in playing ninepins or tenpins.
one of the biased or weighted balls used in lawn bowling.
bowls, (used with a singular verb) lawn bowling.
a delivery of the ball in bowling or lawn bowling.
(formerly) a rotating cylindrical part in a machine, as one to reduce friction.
verb (used without object)
to play at bowling or bowls; participate in or have a game or games of bowling.
to roll a bowl or ball.
to move along smoothly and rapidly.
Cricket. to deliver the ball to be played by the batsman.
verb (used with object)
to roll or trundle, as a ball or hoop.
to attain by bowling:
He bowls a good game. She usually bowls a 120 game, but today she bowled 180.
to knock or strike, as by the ball in bowling (usually followed by over or down).
to carry or convey, as in a wheeled vehicle.
Cricket. to eliminate (a batsman) by bowling (usually followed by out):
He was bowled for a duck. He was bowled out for a duck.
Verb phrases
bowl over, to surprise greatly:
We were bowled over by the news.
Origin of bowl2
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English bowle, variant of boule < Middle French < Latin bulla bubble, knob; cf. boil1, bola Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bowl over
Historical Examples
  • So I inverted a bowl over his head and cut away all the locks that hung below it.

  • An end always has to face interference, and good interference will bowl over a waiting end with ease.

    American Football Walter Camp
  • He may bowl over the fence, or, if there is a field beyond, make the next field.

    Opportunities in Aviation Arthur Sweetser
  • You see, I could beat the eggs for you, and you know how hard it is for you not to tip the bowl over when you beat them!

    The Fun of Cooking Caroline French Benton
  • She was irrevocably predestined to bowl over the first man who came along, with her ultra feminine irresponsibility.

    Just Patty Jean Webster
  • To do this I hold the bowl over a gas range until it is red all over, then I plunge it into cold water.

  • Then it came with a suddenness and force that was strong enough to bowl over even a man of strong heart.

    The Silent Alarm Roy J. Snell
  • In their volcanic progress they bowl over the non-partisan—a man and a brother—with splendid unconcern.

    Americans and Others Agnes Repplier
  • But it may be light enough for me to see to bowl over one on my own account.

  • You might bowl over a horse or two, but what good would that do?

    The Young Castellan George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for bowl over

bowl over

verb (transitive, adverb)
(informal) to surprise (a person) greatly, esp in a pleasant way; astound; amaze: he was bowled over by our gift
to knock (a person or thing) down; cause to fall over


a round container open at the top, used for holding liquid, keeping fruit, serving food, etc
Also bowlful. the amount a bowl will hold
the rounded or hollow part of an object, esp of a spoon or tobacco pipe
any container shaped like a bowl, such as a sink or lavatory
(mainly US) a bowl-shaped building or other structure, such as a football stadium or amphitheatre
a bowl-shaped depression of the land surface See also dust bowl
  1. a drinking cup
  2. intoxicating drink
Word Origin
Old English bolla; related to Old Norse bolli, Old Saxon bollo


a wooden ball used in the game of bowls, having flattened sides, one side usually being flatter than the other in order to make it run on a curved course
a large heavy ball with holes for gripping with the fingers and thumb, used in tenpin bowling
to roll smoothly or cause to roll smoothly, esp by throwing underarm along the ground
(intransitive) usually foll by along. to move easily and rapidly, as in a car
  1. to send (a ball) down the pitch from one's hand towards the batsman, keeping the arm straight while doing so
  2. Also bowl out. to dismiss (a batsman) by delivering a ball that breaks his wicket
(intransitive) to play bowls or tenpin bowling
(transitive) (in tenpin bowling) to score (a specified amount): he bowled 120
See also bowl over, bowls
Word Origin
C15: from French boule, ultimately from Latin bulla bubble
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bowl over



Old English bolla "pot, cup, bowl," from Proto-Germanic *bul- "a round vessel" (cf. Old Norse bolle, Old High German bolla), from PIE *bhl-, from root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).


"to roll a ball on the ground," typically as part of a game or contest, mid-15c., from bowl "wooden ball" (see bowls). Specifically of cricket from 1755; cricket use is source of late 19c. expressions bowl over, etc. Related: Bowled; bowling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bowl over


Related Terms

goldfish bowl, rust bowl


Related Terms

goldfish bowl, rust bowl

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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bowl over in the Bible

The sockets of the lamps of the golden candlestick of the tabernacle are called bowls (Ex. 25:31, 33, 34; 37:17, 19, 20); the same word so rendered being elsewhere rendered "cup" (Gen. 44:2, 12, 16), and wine "pot" (Jer. 35:5). The reservoir for oil, from which pipes led to each lamp in Zechariah's vision of the candlestick, is called also by this name (Zech. 4:2, 3); so also are the vessels used for libations (Ex. 25:29; 37:16).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with bowl over

bowl over

Astonish, surprise greatly, overwhelm, as in I was simply bowled over by their wonderful performance. This term originated in cricket, where it means “to knock all the bails off the wicket.” [ Mid-1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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