Nearby words

  1. balkh,
  2. balkhash,
  3. balkis,
  4. balkline,
  5. balky,
  6. ball ammunition,
  7. ball and chain,
  8. ball and ring,
  9. ball bearing,
  10. ball boy


Origin of ball

1175–1225; Middle English bal, balle < Old French < Germanic *ballaz; compare Old Norse bǫllr, Old High German bal, ballo, balla, German Ball, Dutch bal; perhaps akin to Latin follis leather bag; see ballock(s)

Related formsball·er, noun

Can be confusedbald balled bawled


[ bawl ]
/ bɔl /


a large, usually lavish, formal party featuring social dancing and sometimes given for a particular purpose, as to introduce debutantes or benefit a charitable organization.
Informal. a thoroughly good time: Have a ball on your vacation!

Origin of ball

1625–35; < French bal, noun derivative of baler (now baller) to dance < Late Latin ballāre < Greek (Magna Graecia) ballízein to dance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for balls

British Dictionary definitions for balls


/ (bɔːlz) slang /

pl n

the testicles
by the balls so as to be rendered powerless
nonsense; rubbish
courage; forcefulness


an exclamation of strong disagreement, contempt, annoyance, etc


Both its anatomical senses and its various extended senses nowadays have far less impact than they used to, and seem unlikely to cause offence, though some older or more conservative people may object. Interestingly, its use in the sense of courage is exactly paralleled in the Spanish term «cojones»


/ (bɔːl) /


John . died 1381, English priest: executed as one of the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt (1381)


/ (bɔːl) /



Word Origin for ball

C13: from Old Norse böllr; related to Old High German balla, Italian palla French balle


Sense 9 of this word was formerly considered to be taboo, and it was labelled as such in previous editions of Collins English Dictionary . However, it has now become acceptable in speech, although some older or more conservative people may object to its use


/ (bɔːl) /


a social function for dancing, esp one that is lavish or formal
informal a very enjoyable time (esp in the phrase have a ball)

Word Origin for ball

C17: from French bal (n), from Old French baller (vb), from Late Latin ballāre to dance, from Greek ballizein

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

Word Origin and History for balls
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for balls


[ bôl ]


A spherical object or mass.
A bezoar.
A large pill or bolus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with balls


In addition to the idioms beginning with ball

  • ball and chain
  • ball of fire
  • ball up

also see:

  • 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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.