- a solid, usually spherical projectile for a cannon, rifle, pistol, etc., as distinguished from a shell.
- projectiles, especially bullets, collectively.
- boldness; courage; brashness.
- nonsense (often used as an interjection).
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to act with speed.
- to stake everything on one attempt.
- alert and efficient or effective: If you don't get on the ball, you'll be fired.
- indicating intelligence or ability: The tests show your students don't have much on the ball. The new manager has a lot on the ball.
- to begin or continue playing a game.
- to start or continue any action.
- to work together; cooperate: union leaders suspected of playing ball with racketeers.
Origin of ball1
Related Words for ball upblunder, boggle, bungle, flub, fumble, mishandle, mismanage, muddle, muff, confound, destroy, disorder, jumble, ruin, scramble
- a solid nonexplosive projectile for a firearmCompare shell (def. 6)
- such projectiles collectively
Word Origin for ball
Word Origin for ball
"round object," Old English *beal, from or corresponding to Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (cf. Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).
Meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. A ball as an object in a sports game is recorded from c.1200; To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c.1400. To be on the ball is 1912, from sports. Ball-point pen first recorded 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is c.1900.
"dancing party," 1630s, from French, from Old French baller "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance," from Greek ballizein "to dance, jump about" (see ballistics). Hence, "very enjoyable time," 1945, American English slang, perhaps back to 1930s in black slang.
Roll something into a ball, as in She loved to knit and was always balling up her yarn. [Early 1800s]
Confuse or bungle, as in Jane got all balled up at the beginning of her speech, or Henry really balled up that exam. This term may come from the fact that when a horse is driven over soft or partly thawed snow, the snow becomes packed into icy balls on its hoofs, making it stumble. Another theory is that it alludes to the vulgar term balls for testicles. [First half of 1900s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with ball
- ball and chain
- ball of fire
- ball up
- behind the eight ball
- break one's balls
- by the balls
- carry the ball
- crystal ball
- drop the ball
- eyeball to eyeball
- get the ball rolling
- have a ball
- have one's eye on the ball
- have someone by the balls
- on the ball
- play ball
- put in mothballs
- snowball's chance in hell
- that's how the ball bounces
- whole ball of wax