Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2



  • 1A solid or hollow spherical or egg-shaped object that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game:

    ‘a cricket ball’
    • ‘Can you imagine… it must be about twenty five years that I haven't held a cricket ball.’
    • ‘When we returned to Bristol they'd want to throw a baseball with the big gloves and everything rather than a cricket ball.’
    • ‘In those days we were just a bunch of street kids playing cricket with a tennis ball and practising drop kicks over the telephone wires.’
    • ‘It was a little dangerous as we were worried that our oldest son might kick the soccer ball over the wire and set off the alarms.’
    • ‘Not every child gets a cricket bat, rugby ball, pair of football boots or spikes as a Christmas or birthday present.’
    • ‘Forcing his opponent to drop the ball, he flashed in to kick the ball over the line and dive onto it to score a great try.’
    • ‘As a child, I studied a little, did a bit of mischief and played a lot of cricket with a tennis ball.’
    • ‘I had enough of pebbles being kicked up at my car, of balls purposely thrown at my windshield, of gargantuan sized twelve year olds banging on my trunk.’
    • ‘He tried to dribble the ball, soccer style, around the goalie.’
    • ‘Shoot hoops or kick a soccer ball around in the yard with your children as often as you can.’
    • ‘He encourages time-wasting and has even thrown balls on the pitch to hinder games.’
    • ‘Jess would rather spend her time kicking a soccer ball round the park with the boys.’
    • ‘Coaches end up teaching the teens how to kick a soccer ball, leap hurdles or swing a bat.’
    • ‘On Sunday it rang to the sounds of snooker balls being shot across the snooker tables, playing host to a snooker competition.’
    • ‘Heather darted for the ball as it came back to her left side and hit it with a backhand.’
    • ‘If you see one having fun with a soccer ball then you should immediately kick the ball into the river or ocean.’
    • ‘We're playing street soccer, and the ball is kicked way over the fence onto the road behind the court.’
    • ‘He threw the ball wide to leave their number 12 free to score under the post.’
    • ‘The ball cannoned off the keeper on to the post before spinning agonisingly over the line.’
    • ‘I could throw a cricket ball a mile, so that's how I got into it at school.’
    sphere, globe, orb, globule, spherule, spheroid, ovoid
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A spherical object or mass of material:
      ‘a ball of wool’
      ‘he crushed the card into a ball’
      • ‘Little boys cluster around stopped cars, offering bags of almonds and popcorn balls.’
      • ‘Remove the dough and knead two or three times to form a ball of light dough.’
      • ‘She hurriedly retrieved the ball of paper and slowly flattening it out.’
      • ‘Susan watched in horror through her kitchen window as a ball of flame came screaming out of the night sky and scored a direct hit on the garden shed.’
      • ‘In that moment, my cousin's image began to unravel all at once, like an unclenched ball of yarn.’
      • ‘Scrape the ball off the spoon onto a well-floured worksurface and knead it.’
      • ‘It exploded in an orange ball of flame sending sand and metal fragments flying.’
      • ‘Then they chew the fibrous fruit into a ball of pulp and spend ages sucking out the goodness.’
      • ‘It's not a developing human being but just a microscopic ball of cells that we can use.’
      • ‘Turn the ball of dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.’
      • ‘Armed with a long ash sapling, a ball of cord, a baited hook, a box of worms and a cork I arrived on schedule.’
      • ‘These fizzing bath oil balls are solid drops that can be added to bath water.’
      • ‘Suddenly there was a ball of flame and the flash lit up the kitchen area.’
      • ‘It burst and there was a grey ball of smoke high up above the plaza.’
      • ‘Remove from heat and quickly beat in all the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until it forms a solid ball.’
      • ‘It's a kind of chocolate bomb, a ball of crisp chocolate that crackles and splits to reveal delicious chocolate ice cream inside.’
      • ‘A ball of plutonium is surrounded with explosives, all of which detonate at precisely the same moment and with exactly the same power.’
      • ‘The car looked like a crumpled ball of metal.’
      • ‘The big ball of black smoke rising into the sky are pretty definite signs something has gone wrong.’
      • ‘Suddenly the boat exploded into a great ball of flame, sending pieces of it skyward.’
      sphere, globe, orb, globule, spherule, spheroid, ovoid
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2historical A solid spherical non-explosive projectile for a cannon:
      ‘the ship fired again—this time the ball made a hit’
      • ‘Michael Taylor says lead musket balls were made on the site and the team has found spills of molten lead that have formed small hollows in the ground.’
      • ‘Eight of the lead musket balls have been flattened from impact, while others show mold lines, indicating that they had never been used.’
      • ‘As the barrage of musket balls continued to cascade down, the sailors hurried to tie the ropes, and scramble up after the two containers.’
      • ‘Also uncovered were musket balls, cannonballs, a grenade and tools.’
      • ‘But history books fail to impart the human toll, whereas this series forces the reader to see the bodies run through with bayonets or lead balls.’
      bullet, projectile, shot, pellet, slug, lead
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3[mass noun] A game played with a ball:
      ‘he comes across a group of kids playing ball’
      • ‘I try to stay vertical with the kite, while the kids run around, play ball or climb trees.’
      • ‘Children playing ball are deemed a nuisance by adjacent home owners.’
      • ‘At one point he revealed how, as a boy, he cried after hearing other kids play ball outside the recording studio where he was forced to work.’
      • ‘The worst aspect of it all can often be watching other parents running about and playing ball with their children, which is impossible in a wheelchair.’
      • ‘They weren't, apparently, breaking any park rules by playing ball.’
      • ‘The little girl was playing ball with some other children.’
      • ‘People will still be able to walk their dogs and play ball in the park.’
      • ‘On summer evenings I could listen to the voices of the older children playing ball.’
    4. 1.4North American [mass noun] Baseball:
      ‘young men would graduate from college and enter pro ball’
      • ‘He is not playing high school ball and is working on completing his high school requirements.’
      • ‘He has played only two full years of pro ball but probably will be ready for the majors within two years.’
      • ‘He challenged his brother to a game of ball.’
      • ‘All the guys who played high school ball wore ankle weights, so I started wearing them, too.’
      • ‘In fact, disputes among tribes in the region were sometimes settled by a game of ball.’
      • ‘The cramps possibly were a side effect of a pulled muscle suffered in winter ball last year.’
      • ‘Once I was old enough to play organized ball, there was lots of baseball, no football.’
      • ‘He fully realizes how rare it is to play high school, college, and pro ball in the same city.’
      • ‘If they keep playing this entertaining ball, the network will be back.’
      • ‘Though Williams never played high school or college ball, basketball was his thing.’
      • ‘They just came out and played real good team ball and they played well and they flat-out beat us.’
      • ‘Every year pro ball bears less and less resemblance to the game collegians and kids play.’
      • ‘Speaking of college ball though, did you see how many games ended on last second shots yesterday?’
      • ‘I really thought my days of pro ball would end and I'd be on the first train back East the next morning.’
      • ‘They also see vast potential in a back who played only one season of college ball.’
      • ‘So if your priority is to teach your players the game, then club ball may be for you.’
      • ‘They told him to forsake his usual practice of pitching in winter ball and rest.’
      • ‘To the surprise of even his own countrymen, he preferred to play winter ball.’
      • ‘Most of the kids went on to play varsity high school ball and a couple played in college.’
      • ‘Detroit makes the most of its limited roster by playing some of the best team ball in the League.’
  • 2(in cricket) a delivery of the ball by the bowler to the batsman:

    ‘his half century came off only forty balls’
    • ‘With his last ball in Test cricket, Davidson had Alan Smith, of England, caught behind.’
    • ‘He took his first wicket with the last ball of an over.’
    • ‘His contribution was to bowl two balls to complete an over when a colleague was injured and go in to bat with one run needed and stay at the non-facing end.’
    • ‘I remember commercials ran till just in time to show the bowler releasing the second ball of the over.’
    • ‘Each innings consists of 30 balls with batsmen retiring at 30 runs.’
    1. 2.1 (in soccer) a pass of the ball in a specified direction or manner:
      ‘Whelan sent a long ball to Goddard’
      • ‘It could be frustrating for Rooney to go from Beckham dropping accurate balls over his shoulder to Everton players delivering wayward passes.’
      • ‘He pounced on a loose ball to and passed to Duff who fed it through to Hasselbaink inside the penalty area.’
      • ‘Expecting a cross, they were static as his inswinging ball flew through the box and into the net off the inside of the far post.’
      • ‘He is inspirational in the heart of midfield, slipping intelligent balls through to the strikers, and possess a fearsome shot.’
      • ‘Van Nistelrooy had been involved in the opening 20 minutes, but a careless ball of his set up the home side's first goal.’
    2. 2.2 (in baseball) a pitch delivered outside the strike zone which the batter does not attempt to hit:
      ‘he ignored it completely, and the umpire called it a ball’
      • ‘Eight of the next nine pitches were balls and bases were loaded.’
      • ‘A lefthanded hitter, he has shown good power, aggressively attacking balls in the strike zone.’
      • ‘He lacks discipline at the plate and can often look bad swinging at balls outside the strike zone.’
      • ‘Jimmy threw the next two pitches outside for balls.’
      • ‘Jimmy threw the first three pitches for balls, then two strikes.’


  • 1Squeeze or form (something) into a rounded shape:

    ‘Robert balled up his napkin and threw it on to his plate’
    • ‘‘It worked,’ I said admiringly, balling the socks up again, and throwing them back to him.’
    • ‘‘You reminded me of Dieter,’ I choked, balling the pillow in my fists.’
    • ‘Daisy fisted the front of my shirt for a moment, balling it in anger.’
    • ‘Jackson shrugged, balling up the leftover scraps of his sandwich and stuffing them into his bag.’
    • ‘‘Yeah your mail,’ Sheldon said dryly as she balled up the paper in her hands and flung it at him.’
    • ‘Annabelle nodded, her hands balling her napkin in her lap.’
    • ‘I snatched it between thumb and forefinger, balled it into a tight dot, threw it to the. floor.’
    • ‘She sighed heavily, while balling up the blue rubber glue stuff that stuck her poster to the wall.’
    • ‘‘Let's get rid of this,’ Marcy said, and balled up the bloody rags and hurled them as far as she could.’
    • ‘A moment later, I catch the dishrag she'd balled up and thrown at me.’
    • ‘‘Ash Stevens, I should have known,’ she muttered before balling up the paper and tossing it to the side.’
    • ‘Unclasping the cloak, he caught it before it flew away and balled it untidily to tuck under his arm.’
    • ‘I turn around and see Eric Chase laughing and balling up another piece of paper.’
    • ‘A whisper that had her, again, balling up the paper and setting it next to its brothers and sisters on the sill.’
    • ‘‘I'm coming with you,’ she informed us, balling up her tie and shoving it roughly into her blazer pocket as she got nearer.’
    • ‘Kevin balled his shirt up and tossed it on the floor.’
    • ‘TJ balled up the card and tossed it into the waste basket.’
    • ‘Watts balled up the ticket, stuffed it between the officer's badge and chin and told him to ‘take care of it.’’
    • ‘Moisten the bread bit by bit, shredding and balling it until consistency is mushy yet firm.’
    • ‘Jessie balled up a napkin and tossed it at Mitch.’
    • ‘He grinned, balling the cloth napkin on the table and throwing it my way.’
    1. 1.1 Clench (one's fist) tightly:
      ‘she balled her fist so that the nails dug into her palms’
      • ‘Steve balled his hands into fists and crossed his arms over his chest.’
      • ‘She threw her arms up in frustration, balling her hands into fists.’
      • ‘She balled her fist and gently tapped his forehead.’
      • ‘Alex winced with every dab and squeezed her eyes shut, balling her hands into tight fists.’
      • ‘He yawned and stretched his arms out, balling his hands into fists.’
      • ‘Her hands were sweating, but she balled them to contain her shivering.’
      • ‘She walked out of the room and closed the door, balling her fists.’
      • ‘I met his angry gaze head on, balling my hands into fists.’
      • ‘She balled her hands into fists at her sides and clenched her teeth with rage.’
      • ‘Then I balled my fist and rammed it into his stomach.’
      • ‘He balled his fists, squeezing them tightly in anger.’
      • ‘The girl balled her tiny, fragile hands into fists, growling ferociously.’
      • ‘I balled my fists at my sides, shouting, ‘Well, it's not like you would have cared!’’
      • ‘He balled his hands into fists, gritting his teeth tightly.’
      • ‘Even though his arms were crossed I saw that his hands were balled into fists.’
      • ‘As they entered the dining room, everyone looked up to see who it was, and Claire looked at the floor, balling her hands into fists.’
      • ‘Her hands were balled into fists, and strands of golden hair fell in her eyes and around her face.’
      • ‘She quietly turned to look at the fountain, balling her fists at her sides.’
      • ‘Her hands were balled into fists and she slumped a little.’
      • ‘I screamed with rage, balling my fists and practically flying across the table.’
    2. 1.2[no object] Form a round shape:
      ‘the fishing nets eventually ball up and sink’
      • ‘I shut my eyes and balled up, but felt nothing at all.’
      • ‘The man gave a scream of agony, balling up to clutch at his injury.’
      • ‘He ducked his head, balling up as the bike spun at a crazy angle and exploded by the forest; he impacted the men, crushing their necks and spines.’
      • ‘Closer and closer, the lightning force that was balling up in between the two was slowly moving its way towards Maddy.’
      • ‘The flex between the plates allows for a better fit and helps prevent snow from balling up underneath (which will cork the points and cause you to slip).’
      • ‘Tiny mussels balled around the oysters, keeping them small and making them unfit for market.’
    3. 1.3 Wrap the root ball of (a tree or shrub) in hessian to protect it during transportation.
      • ‘Spring is best for planting, but you can put balled and burlapped or container grown hollies in the ground in early spring or fall.’
      • ‘Harvesting of balled, live trees may begin after completion of growth in late August or early September if soil moisture conditions are favorable.’
      • ‘Some people buy live trees that are balled in burlap instead of a cut tree.’
      • ‘For container or balled & burlapped trees, carefully push a shovel under the root-ball and pry it upward while lifting up on the lower trunk.’
      • ‘Plant balled and burlapped magnolias when they're dormant, or in late spring after growth has started.’
      • ‘Nursery-bought trees will be either in containers or balled and burlapped.’
  • 2North American vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse with (someone).

  • 3British [no object] (of a flower) fail to open properly, decaying in the half-open bud.


  • the ball is in your court

    • It is up to you to make the next move:

      ‘the ball is firmly in the court of the EC Commission’
      • ‘Next thing you know, this idea has taken hold of the executives’ hearts and minds, and the ball is in your court to pull off a winning tour.’
      • ‘While the credit provider and the credit bureaus have the responsibility to respond to your complaint, the ball is in your court to show that you're in the right about it.’
      • ‘I think it is a cop-out to blame the foot-dragging on others because the ball is in your court to get your act together.’
      • ‘With all this variety, the ball is in your court to select the best match to your personal requirements.’
      • ‘If you do not do this, the ball is in your court to make up work or use the missed quiz as the quiz which you drop.’
      • ‘When faced with an employee complaint, the ball is in your court to investigate.’
  • a ball of fire

    • A person who is full of energy and enthusiasm.

      • ‘If you know in your heart that you're a ball of fire, but just can't get off the couch in the evenings, you might want to look into your diet and exercise programs.’
      • ‘Rebecca is really energetic, she's a ball of fire.’
  • the ball of the foot

    • The rounded protuberant part of the foot at the base of the big toe.

      • ‘Neuromas often cause a sharp tingling or burning sensation radiating to the toes as well as pain in the ball of the foot and between the toes.’
      • ‘High-heeled shoes force women to continually walk around on tiptoe, placing all the body weight on the ball of the foot and pushing the foot toward the toe of the shoe.’
      • ‘Jay ensures that each rep is done using a full range of motion, from deep extension to absolute contraction high up on the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘The skin over the ball of the foot was callused and thickened, and in the middle was a pale area that was 5 mm in diameter.’
      • ‘Loop one end of the tubing around the ball of the foot with the injured ankle.’
      • ‘Padding on the heel, ball of the foot, and instep provides extra cushioning and blister protection, and eases pressure from laces and boot folds.’
      • ‘On the ball of the foot, a lump or callus may form because of too much pressure.’
      • ‘The kicking surface can be the ball of the foot, the flat underside of the foot, or as demonstrated here, using the toes.’
      • ‘Alternatively, if you're put off by the needle or the expense, £5.99 will get you a pair of small, gel-filled cushions to pop into your shoes right under the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘According to experts, as we age we lose fat under the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘You put your knee over the ball of the foot, and that creates a cushion, then the plie puts the heel down as you finish landing.’
      • ‘Demi-pointe, or half point, means balancing on the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘Your back foot can be up on the ball of the foot or flat on the ground.’
      • ‘Softer materials are useful for conditions related to shock, such as shin splints, heel bruising and pain beneath the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘Spinning on ball of the foot she swept her leg around, kicking him in the head.’
      • ‘Lengthening the tendon or an attached calf muscle reduces the pressure on the ball of the foot to help prevent and treat diabetic foot ulcers.’
      • ‘After cleansing, massage feet in small circular motions concentrating on the ball of the foot and joints of each toe.’
      • ‘There should be lots of fast footwork and each step should be performed on the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with inflammation of the band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot.’
      • ‘In cycling, it's known as ‘hot foot’ - a burning pain in the ball of the foot, perhaps radiating toward the toes.’
  • the ball of the thumb

    • The rounded protuberant part of the hand at the base of the thumb.

      • ‘As a quick check the texture should be similar to that of the ball of the thumb of a closed fist.’
      • ‘Playing with the hand involves a rocking motion between the thumb or ball of the thumb and the fingers or outside edge of the palm.’
      • ‘With the ball of the thumb lift the rear ends of the two top cards and slip the tip of the left little finger under them.’
      • ‘Therefore, the ball of the thumb is often severely strained, especially when snowboarding.’
      • ‘Take one ball and flatten it on the board with the ball of the thumb, to the thickness of about 3/4 inch.’
      • ‘Another method for testing sharpness involves moving the ball of the thumb lightly over the blade edge, while the amateur usually tests the knife by shaving the hair of the forearm.’
      • ‘The tip of the second finger curls in toward the ball of the thumb until it is under the mouth of the thimble.’
      • ‘When the trigger releases the ball of the thumb presses forward and in that instant the gun is pushed to the right.’
      • ‘Some archers wear a thumb ring to protect the ball of the thumb from the string when it is released.’
      • ‘The right hand is first put in action, firm pressure being made with the ball of the thumb and the heel of the hand until the median line is reached.’
      • ‘Observation has shown that pinches are taken either with the tips of thumb and two fingers or between the ball of the thumb and top knuckle of the forefinger.’
      • ‘To do this, combine the thumb with the first finger, striking down with the ball of the thumb and the nail of the first finger and coming up with the fleshy part of the tip of the first finger alone.’
  • have a lot (or not much) on the ball

    • Have a lot of (or not much) ability.

      • ‘I gave a lot of credit to the police chief in New Orleans because I think he had a lot on the ball.’
      • ‘Rick had a lot on the ball and he was a samaritan to boot.’
      • ‘She also apparently attained the position of leader of the scientific expedition legitimately, so she certainly did have a lot on the ball in many ways.’
      • ‘The cattle producers I know are very sharp and have a lot on the ball.’
      • ‘However, I suspect he had a lot on the ball to begin with.’
      • ‘I believe she is a brilliant woman who has a lot on the ball.’
      • ‘They were great conversationalists and I could tell that Megan had a lot on the ball.’
      • ‘He really has a lot on the ball and I think that he will be a great candidate.’
      • ‘I actually think Lee has a lot on the ball for such a young guy.’
      • ‘The majority of people who make it to the top of organizations have a lot on the ball.’
  • keep the ball rolling

    • Maintain the momentum of an activity.

      • ‘A bingo session on Wednesday and a quiz night on Thursday kept the ball rolling ahead of tomorrow's showcase event.’
      • ‘We've got to keep the ball rolling, otherwise the whole thing could collapse.’
      • ‘You have to set certain goals on a short term basis to keep the ball rolling.’
      • ‘However the economic decision was made years ago and it has been political will that has kept the ball rolling.’
      • ‘‘We're getting better, and we just hope we can keep the ball rolling in the right direction,’ said Edwards.’
      • ‘However, we still need to make a constant and vigilant effort to keep the ball rolling.’
      • ‘To keep the ball rolling, I thought I'd share five key themes that resonated for everyone who attended the conference.’
      • ‘Mr Knight told the Evening Press today: ‘I hope I can keep the ball rolling on this.’’
      • ‘Her duty was to breezily keep the ball rolling, maintaining the appearance of a freewheeling, open dialogue while steering the topic in positive directions.’
      • ‘The €150,000 I am allocating today will keep the ball rolling.’
  • keep one's eye on (or take one's eye off) the ball

    • Keep (or fail to keep) one's attention focused on the matter in hand:

      ‘opinion pollsters led everyone to take their eyes off the ball’
      • ‘This takes my eye off the ball but fortunately I work with an experienced team so things don't go wrong.’
      • ‘And our worry about this, as your interview suggested earlier, is that we're taking our eye off the ball.’
      • ‘But we have to stay fully focused and not take our eye off the ball.’
      • ‘I think it's important that it's used as a reality check for everyone so that they don't take their eye off the ball.’
      • ‘But I can't look too far ahead because the minute you do that you take your eye off the ball.’
      • ‘He took his eye off the ball and did not really appreciate that the client was manipulating him.’
      • ‘We know from experience that dabbling in areas outside your area of expertise takes your eye off the ball of your core business.’
      • ‘They can't afford to take their eye off the ball.’
      • ‘And pensions wasn't the only occasion when he took his eye off the ball.’
      • ‘We mustn't take our eye off the ball if we are to continue to improve services in emergency care.’
  • on the ball

    • Aware of and quick to respond to new ideas and methods:

      ‘maintaining contact with customers keeps me on the ball’
      • ‘It seems that Jim is really on the ball these days.’
      • ‘She told me I was on the ball, and I gleefully admitted to having counted down the days!’
      • ‘As it happens his second email indicated that he was on the ball and I needn't have been so concerned.’
      • ‘When a customer complains, you need to be on the ball and get things done for them.’
      • ‘If the fault in this case lies with officials who weren't on the ball, let's see someone deal with them.’
      • ‘He warned that the players who step in will have to be on the ball.’
      • ‘I wish we'd been on the ball enough just to get a copy of the swimming pool skit which was the only one that got edited, but we had more on our mind at the time.’
      • ‘Luckily he was more on the ball and able to sort me out a disk.’
      • ‘If you are a solicitor, for example, you need to sound on the ball.’
      • ‘There was also a commentator who seemed rather on the ball.’
      alert, quick-witted, sharp, bright, quick, keen, perceptive, wide awake, responsive, agile, acute, astute
      on one's toes, quick off the mark, quick on the uptake, all there, with it, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
      View synonyms
  • play ball

    • informal Work willingly with others; cooperate:

      ‘if his solicitors won't play ball, there's nothing we can do’
      • ‘If the tourism board wants to refuse to play ball, then the government will intervene.’
      • ‘I catch an early train to the Lake District in the morning, and the camera gets the full test, as long as the weather plays ball.’
      • ‘The council must know the hazards and risks but they are not playing ball.’
      • ‘If the contractor is willing to play ball, then you can launch the project immediately.’
      • ‘But his officials believe the vice-chancellors are willing to play ball.’
      • ‘We imagine they won't be willing to play ball on this front.’
      • ‘It was clear that it had to be done under conditions of confidentiality or Craig wouldn't be willing to play ball.’
      • ‘Yet profits are likely to suffer over time as additional pension contributions mount up, especially if the employees don't play ball.’
      • ‘Even Government departments are playing ball.’
      • ‘And what I give him credit for is playing ball with congressional Republicans and having mildly conservative economic policies on trade, on taxes, on regulation.’
  • start (or get or set) the ball rolling

    • Cause something to start happening:

      ‘to start the ball rolling, the government was asked to contribute a million pounds to the fund’
      • ‘She said: ‘We are delighted students at the University of York are getting behind the Trust and are really grateful for the efforts of Tom, Richard and James for starting the ball rolling.’’
      • ‘The out-going General Manager has started the ball rolling!’
      • ‘I wanted to get the ball rolling before something happened to change his mind.’
      • ‘This first closure order has started the ball rolling now and we expect there to be many more.’
      • ‘I want our meeting in Waterford to set the ball rolling on the next generation of waste management policies - to find a better way of using our natural resources and managing our waste.’
      • ‘Sunday's event was such a runaway success that organisers are keen to get the ball rolling on the next one.’
      • ‘My recommendation is that we get general elections out of the way now and start the ball rolling.’
      • ‘Warren started the ball rolling with a couple of pages that introduced us to the main characters.’
      • ‘Using his own money and living in his parent's basement, he got the ball rolling on the organisation.’
      • ‘We have started the ball rolling, now others can take our lead.’
  • the whole ball of wax

    • informal Everything.

      • ‘The point of the book is nobody has to take over the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘It ties the whole ball of wax together, from studio to director to actors to grips.’
      • ‘‘The quintessential entrepreneur is someone who wants to put his hands around the whole ball of wax,’ says Kriss.’
      • ‘However, his nominees suggest that he's going to go straight out and try to go for the whole ball of wax at first.’
      • ‘They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘I've said before that a restaurant isn't just about the food but about the whole ball of wax - decor, vibe and service thrown in.’
      • ‘That includes a consultation, an exam, and your first adjustment, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘They still are playing for the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘Alpinism is the whole ball of wax, not just one aspect of climbing.’
      • ‘Are we all part of a shrinking world where we can count on our commonalities to keep the whole ball of wax in one piece?’


Middle English: from Old Norse bǫllr, of Germanic origin.




Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2



  • A formal social gathering for dancing:

    ‘Anne danced with the captain at a fancy-dress ball’
    [as modifier] ‘a ball gown’
    • ‘It will match any outfit and is perfect for any occasion, from out for the day to a formal ball.’
    • ‘Built in the 1870s it was the first hall in Auckland for musical activities, balls, social events and even ladies' roller skating.’
    • ‘They were in great demand for hunt balls, ballroom dancing, weddings and other social gatherings.’
    • ‘I just wanted to tell you that you'll be having a debutante ball on your birthday!’
    • ‘I had many offers to balls and social gatherings but I had never accepted.’
    • ‘I also liked dancing at the palace balls and playing the flute.’
    • ‘It was long and gauzy; it felt like something that should be worn to a masquerade ball, or a prom.’
    • ‘He watched as his mother emerged from her room, dressed in her ball gown and sparkling in rubies.’
    • ‘However, most did boast a formal music room, where recitals and smaller dances and balls could be held.’
    • ‘Which was the reason why I still went to balls and the social functions of the season.’
    • ‘She thought wistfully of the elegant ball gown that had been made just for tonight.’
    • ‘Social balls and charity have morphed into PR events and openings.’
    • ‘The girls planned their ball gowns for weeks ahead and the talk was about boys from a nearby Catholic school.’
    • ‘It was the morning of the debutante ball and I was giving Ryan last minute dance lessons.’
    • ‘An invitation to a formal dance or ball is the perfect excuse to indulge in your fairytale fantasies.’
    • ‘After all, you don't miss your debutante ball, especially when your family is hosting it.’
    • ‘The only time she ever puts her hair up is during a ball or formal affair.’
    • ‘That evening at the ball she watched the formal introductions patiently waiting so that she could go and greet Natalie.’
    • ‘You're probably swanning around the place up there right now in a ball gown and heels…’
    • ‘Banquets, balls, dinner dances, bazaars and fetes, exhibitions and civic receptions were held there in its proud heyday.’
    dance, dinner dance, masked ball, masquerade, tea dance
    hoedown, prom
    thé dansant
    hop, disco, bop
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  • have a ball

    • informal Enjoy oneself greatly:

      ‘I was miserable but he was having a ball’
      • ‘I suppose that some day Jamie and Craig will outgrow all this pretend play, but, for now, they are having a ball, enjoying each other's company and stretching their imaginations.’
      • ‘Despite the poor weather conditions on the day everyone enjoyed themselves and had a ball.’
      • ‘We enjoyed our time at school; we had a ball and it's great to get together and remember those days.’
      • ‘The many young Spanish students who are in town over the past few weeks are having a ball and really enjoyed ‘Music Week’.’
      • ‘We are having a ball and the weather has just crowned it all.’
      • ‘If you're the one who's stuck at home, it's easy to imagine your other half having a ball in foreign climes, free from the dreary chores of going to the market and cleaning the house.’
      • ‘But just before he disappears, he switches off the tape recorder and confides: ‘I'm having a ball!’’
      • ‘Normally I don't enjoy it that much but this year I really had a ball.’
      • ‘Dave said: ‘I'm having a ball, although part of me obviously misses Thailand.’’
      • ‘The band were loving it and having a ball, the vibe was just amazing.’
      have a good time, have a great time, have fun, have the time of one's life
      enjoy oneself
      let one's hair down, whoop it up, have a fling, make whoopee, push the boat out, paint the town red, live it up
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Early 17th century: from French bal a dance, from late Latin ballare to dance; related to Greek ballizein to dance (also ballein to throw).