Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2



  • 1A solid or hollow sphere or ovoid, especially one that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game.

    ‘a soccer ball’
    • ‘Coaches end up teaching the teens how to kick a soccer ball, leap hurdles or swing a bat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I could throw a cricket ball a mile, so that's how I got into it at school.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We're playing street soccer, and the ball is kicked way over the fence onto the road behind the court.’
    • ‘When we returned to Bristol they'd want to throw a baseball with the big gloves and everything rather than a cricket ball.’
    • ‘Jess would rather spend her time kicking a soccer ball round the park with the boys.’
    • ‘Not every child gets a cricket bat, rugby ball, pair of football boots or spikes as a Christmas or birthday present.’
    • ‘As a child, I studied a little, did a bit of mischief and played a lot of cricket with a tennis ball.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He threw the ball wide to leave their number 12 free to score under the post.’
    • ‘He encourages time-wasting and has even thrown balls on the pitch to hinder games.’
    • ‘Shoot hoops or kick a soccer ball around in the yard with your children as often as you can.’
    • ‘He tried to dribble the ball, soccer style, around the goalie.’
    • ‘Can you imagine… it must be about twenty five years that I haven't held a cricket ball.’
    • ‘If you see one having fun with a soccer ball then you should immediately kick the ball into the river or ocean.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ball cannoned off the keeper on to the post before spinning agonisingly over the line.’
    sphere, globe, orb, globule, spherule, spheroid, ovoid
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A ball-shaped object.
      ‘a ball of wool’
      ‘he crushed the card into a ball’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These fizzing bath oil balls are solid drops that can be added to bath water.’
      • ‘A ball of plutonium is surrounded with explosives, all of which detonate at precisely the same moment and with exactly the same power.’
      • ‘Turn the ball of dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.’
      • ‘It burst and there was a grey ball of smoke high up above the plaza.’
      • ‘Suddenly the boat exploded into a great ball of flame, sending pieces of it skyward.’
      • ‘It exploded in an orange ball of flame sending sand and metal fragments flying.’
      • ‘Armed with a long ash sapling, a ball of cord, a baited hook, a box of worms and a cork I arrived on schedule.’
      • ‘The car looked like a crumpled ball of metal.’
      • ‘Little boys cluster around stopped cars, offering bags of almonds and popcorn balls.’
      • ‘Remove from heat and quickly beat in all the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until it forms a solid ball.’
      • ‘It's not a developing human being but just a microscopic ball of cells that we can use.’
      • ‘She hurriedly retrieved the ball of paper and slowly flattening it out.’
      • ‘In that moment, my cousin's image began to unravel all at once, like an unclenched ball of yarn.’
      • ‘Suddenly there was a ball of flame and the flash lit up the kitchen area.’
      • ‘Then they chew the fibrous fruit into a ball of pulp and spend ages sucking out the goodness.’
      • ‘The big ball of black smoke rising into the sky are pretty definite signs something has gone wrong.’
      • ‘Remove the dough and knead two or three times to form a ball of light dough.’
      • ‘Scrape the ball off the spoon onto a well-floured worksurface and knead it.’
      • ‘It's a kind of chocolate bomb, a ball of crisp chocolate that crackles and splits to reveal delicious chocolate ice cream inside.’
    2. 1.2historical A solid nonexplosive missile for a firearm.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As the barrage of musket balls continued to cascade down, the sailors hurried to tie the ropes, and scramble up after the two containers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eight of the lead musket balls have been flattened from impact, while others show mold lines, indicating that they had never been used.’
      • ‘Also uncovered were musket balls, cannonballs, a grenade and tools.’
    3. 1.3North American A game played with a ball, especially baseball.
      ‘kids have been playing ball in that lot for almost a hundred years’
      • ‘If they keep playing this entertaining ball, the network will be back.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They just came out and played real good team ball and they played well and they flat-out beat us.’
      • ‘So if your priority is to teach your players the game, then club ball may be for you.’
      • ‘Most of the kids went on to play varsity high school ball and a couple played in college.’
      • ‘He has played only two full years of pro ball but probably will be ready for the majors within two years.’
      • ‘Though Williams never played high school or college ball, basketball was his thing.’
      • ‘They also see vast potential in a back who played only one season of college ball.’
      • ‘He challenged his brother to a game of ball.’
      • ‘Once I was old enough to play organized ball, there was lots of baseball, no football.’
      • ‘I really thought my days of pro ball would end and I'd be on the first train back East the next morning.’
      • ‘Every year pro ball bears less and less resemblance to the game collegians and kids play.’
      • ‘All the guys who played high school ball wore ankle weights, so I started wearing them, too.’
      • ‘He fully realizes how rare it is to play high school, college, and pro ball in the same city.’
      • ‘Speaking of college ball though, did you see how many games ended on last second shots yesterday?’
      • ‘They told him to forsake his usual practice of pitching in winter ball and rest.’
      • ‘Detroit makes the most of its limited roster by playing some of the best team ball in the League.’
      • ‘To the surprise of even his own countrymen, he preferred to play winter ball.’
      • ‘He is not playing high school ball and is working on completing his high school requirements.’
  • 2(in baseball) a pitch delivered outside the strike zone that the batter does not attempt to hit.

    ‘the umpire called it a ball’
    • ‘He lacks discipline at the plate and can often look bad swinging at balls outside the strike zone.’
    • ‘Jimmy threw the first three pitches for balls, then two strikes.’
    • ‘Jimmy threw the next two pitches outside for balls.’
    • ‘A lefthanded hitter, he has shown good power, aggressively attacking balls in the strike zone.’
    • ‘Eight of the next nine pitches were balls and bases were loaded.’
    1. 2.1(in soccer) a pass of the ball in a specified direction or manner.
      ‘Whelan sent a long ball to Goddard’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Van Nistelrooy had been involved in the opening 20 minutes, but a careless ball of his set up the home side's first goal.’
  • 3The rounded protuberant part of the foot at the base of the big toe.

    • ‘The kicking surface can be the ball of the foot, the flat underside of the foot, or as demonstrated here, using the toes.’
    • ‘According to experts, as we age we lose fat under the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In cycling, it's known as ‘hot foot’ - a burning pain in the ball of the foot, perhaps radiating toward 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.’
    • ‘After cleansing, massage feet in small circular motions concentrating on the ball of the foot and joints of each toe.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Spinning on ball of the foot she swept her leg around, kicking him in the head.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Demi-pointe, or half point, means balancing on the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Your back foot can be up on the ball of the foot or flat on the ground.’
    • ‘On the ball of the foot, a lump or callus may form because of too much pressure.’
    • ‘Softer materials are useful for conditions related to shock, such as shin splints, heel bruising and pain beneath the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There should be lots of fast footwork and each step should be performed 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.’
    1. 3.1The rounded protuberant part of the hand at the base of the thumb.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a quick check the texture should be similar to that of the ball of the thumb of a closed fist.’
      • ‘Some archers wear a thumb ring to protect the ball of the thumb from the string when it is released.’
      • ‘When the trigger releases the ball of the thumb presses forward and in that instant the gun is pushed to the right.’
      • ‘Therefore, the ball of the thumb is often severely strained, especially when snowboarding.’
      • ‘The tip of the second finger curls in toward the ball of the thumb until it is under the mouth of the thimble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Take one ball and flatten it on the board with the ball of the thumb, to the thickness of about 3/4 inch.’
      • ‘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.’


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

    ‘Robert balled up his napkin and threw it onto his plate’
    • ‘‘I'm coming with you,’ she informed us, balling up her tie and shoving it roughly into her blazer pocket as she got nearer.’
    • ‘Watts balled up the ticket, stuffed it between the officer's badge and chin and told him to ‘take care of it.’’
    • ‘Jackson shrugged, balling up the leftover scraps of his sandwich and stuffing them into his bag.’
    • ‘Daisy fisted the front of my shirt for a moment, balling it in anger.’
    • ‘Moisten the bread bit by bit, shredding and balling it until consistency is mushy yet firm.’
    • ‘A moment later, I catch the dishrag she'd balled up and thrown at me.’
    • ‘He grinned, balling the cloth napkin on the table and throwing it my way.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jessie balled up a napkin and tossed it at Mitch.’
    • ‘‘It worked,’ I said admiringly, balling the socks up again, and throwing them back to him.’
    • ‘Kevin balled his shirt up and tossed it on the floor.’
    • ‘A whisper that had her, again, balling up the paper and setting it next to its brothers and sisters on the sill.’
    • ‘Unclasping the cloak, he caught it before it flew away and balled it untidily to tuck under his arm.’
    • ‘‘Yeah your mail,’ Sheldon said dryly as she balled up the paper in her hands and flung it at him.’
    • ‘‘Ash Stevens, I should have known,’ she muttered before balling up the paper and tossing it to the side.’
    • ‘‘You reminded me of Dieter,’ I choked, balling the pillow in my fists.’
    • ‘TJ balled up the card and tossed it into the waste basket.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I turn around and see Eric Chase laughing and balling up another piece of paper.’
    1. 1.1Clench or screw up (one's fist) tightly.
      ‘she balled her fist so that the nails dug into her palms’
      • ‘She threw her arms up in frustration, balling her hands into fists.’
      • ‘Her hands were sweating, but she balled them to contain her shivering.’
      • ‘The girl balled her tiny, fragile hands into fists, growling ferociously.’
      • ‘Her hands were balled into fists, and strands of golden hair fell in her eyes and around her face.’
      • ‘He balled his fists, squeezing them tightly in anger.’
      • ‘Then I balled my fist and rammed it into his stomach.’
      • ‘Even though his arms were crossed I saw that his hands were balled into fists.’
      • ‘Steve balled his hands into fists and crossed his arms over his chest.’
      • ‘Her hands were balled into fists and she slumped a little.’
      • ‘He yawned and stretched his arms out, balling his hands into fists.’
      • ‘I met his angry gaze head on, balling my hands into fists.’
      • ‘I balled my fists at my sides, shouting, ‘Well, it's not like you would have cared!’’
      • ‘She walked out of the room and closed the door, balling her fists.’
      • ‘I screamed with rage, balling my fists and practically flying across the table.’
      • ‘She balled her hands into fists at her sides and clenched her teeth with rage.’
      • ‘She quietly turned to look at the fountain, balling her fists at her sides.’
      • ‘Alex winced with every dab and squeezed her eyes shut, balling her hands into tight 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.’
      • ‘He balled his hands into fists, gritting his teeth tightly.’
      • ‘She balled her fist and gently tapped his forehead.’
    2. 1.2[no object]Form a round shape.
      ‘the fishing nets eventually ball up and sink’
      • ‘Tiny mussels balled around the oysters, keeping them small and making them unfit for market.’
      • ‘The man gave a scream of agony, balling up to clutch at his injury.’
      • ‘I shut my eyes and balled up, but felt nothing at all.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3Wrap the rootball of (a tree or shrub) in burlap to protect it during transportation.
      • ‘Plant balled and burlapped magnolias when they're dormant, or in late spring after growth has started.’
      • ‘Harvesting of balled, live trees may begin after completion of growth in late August or early September if soil moisture conditions are favorable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Spring is best for planting, but you can put balled and burlapped or container grown hollies in the ground in early spring or fall.’
      • ‘Nursery-bought trees will be either in containers or balled and burlapped.’
      • ‘Some people buy live trees that are balled in burlap instead of a cut tree.’
  • 2North American vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse with.


  • balled up

    • Entangled; confused.

      ‘I got slightly balled up in my facts’
      • ‘This gets balled up in a lot of really big societal issues very quickly.’
      • ‘Things must have got all balled up at head office.’
  • the ball is in your court

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With all this variety, the ball is in your court to select the best match to your personal requirements.’
  • a ball of fire

    • A person 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.’
  • keep the ball rolling

    • Maintain the momentum of an activity.

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We mustn't take our eye off the ball if we are to continue to improve services in emergency care.’
      • ‘We know from experience that dabbling in areas outside your area of expertise takes your eye off the ball of your core business.’
      • ‘But we have to stay fully focused and not take our eye off the ball.’
      • ‘They can't afford to take their eye off the ball.’
      • ‘And our worry about this, as your interview suggested earlier, is that we're taking our eye 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 pensions wasn't the only occasion when he took his eye off the ball.’
  • on the ball

    • 1Alert to new ideas, methods, and trends.

      ‘maintaining contact with customers keeps me 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.’
      • ‘He warned that the players who step in will have to be on the ball.’
      • ‘If you are a solicitor, for example, you need to sound on the ball.’
      • ‘Luckily he was more on the ball and able to sort me out a disk.’
      • ‘There was also a commentator who seemed rather on the ball.’
      • ‘If the fault in this case lies with officials who weren't on the ball, let's see someone deal with them.’
      • ‘As it happens his second email indicated that he was on the ball and I needn't have been so concerned.’
      • ‘It seems that Jim is really on the ball these days.’
      • ‘When a customer complains, you need to be on the ball and get things done for them.’
      • ‘She told me I was on the ball, and I gleefully admitted to having counted down the days!’
      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
      1. 1.1Indicating competence, alertness, or intelligence.
        ‘a woman like that, with so much on the ball’
        • ‘He's also pushing eighty five, and while totally on the ball, surely not as sharp as he was in 1957.’
        • ‘I was even more amazed to find him personable, intelligent and on the ball.’
  • play ball

    • 1Play a ball game such as baseball.

      ‘we noticed some youngsters playing ball in a vacant lot’
      • ‘But as anyone who has played ball knows, home runs and caught balls are part of the game, but so are strikeouts and dropped balls.’
      • ‘Many times, though, he'd go home with red eyes after playing ball as a youngster.’
      • ‘Two highlights of the program are its open gym, where children can spend after-school hours playing ball or getting tutored, and its summer activities program that offers swimming and trips to the zoo to at-risk children.’
      • ‘Almost every kid in the U.S. played ball, and baseball players were treated like royalty.’
      • ‘He also had seen them practice because the Harlem YMCA, where Gates played ball as a youngster, was a practice site for the Rens.’
      • ‘The Council's Housing Department paid for it with the intention to give the young people from the local estates an alternative to playing ball in front of their flats, which was causing complaints and problems.’
      • ‘A ballplayer's purpose in playing ball is to do those things which create wins for his team, while avoiding those things which create losses for his team.’
      • ‘What ever happened to playing ball and then trading baseball cards until you had to go home?’
      • ‘This leads to an assortment of players from baseball history turning up to play ball.’
      • ‘We were happy enough with hopscotch, playing ball, skipping, playing hide and seek, anything like that.’
      1. 1.1informal Work willingly with others; cooperate.
        ‘if his lawyers won't play ball, there's nothing we can do’
        • ‘But his officials believe the vice-chancellors are willing to play ball.’
        • ‘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 tourism board wants to refuse to play ball, then the government will intervene.’
        • ‘Even Government departments are playing ball.’
        • ‘We imagine they won't be willing to play ball on this front.’
        • ‘If the contractor is willing to play ball, then you can launch the project immediately.’
        • ‘Yet profits are likely to suffer over time as additional pension contributions mount up, especially if the employees don't play 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.’
        • ‘It was clear that it had to be done under conditions of confidentiality or Craig wouldn't be willing to play ball.’
      2. 1.2The umpire's command to begin or resume play.
        • ‘The batter must take her position in the batter's box within 10 seconds after the umpire has declared, "Play Ball."’
        • ‘Shouts of "play ball" ringing from the home plate umpire are only about a month away at Amgen Field in Thousand Oaks.’
  • start (or get or set) the ball rolling

    • Set an activity in motion; make a start.

      ‘to start the ball rolling, the government was asked to contribute a million dollars 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.’’
      • ‘Sunday's event was such a runaway success that organisers are keen to get the ball rolling on the next one.’
      • ‘This first closure order has started the ball rolling now and we expect there to be many more.’
      • ‘Warren started the ball rolling with a couple of pages that introduced us to the main characters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My recommendation is that we get general elections out of the way now and start the ball rolling.’
      • ‘We have started the ball rolling, now others can take our lead.’
      • ‘I wanted to get the ball rolling before something happened to change his mind.’
      • ‘The out-going General Manager has started the ball rolling!’
      • ‘Using his own money and living in his parent's basement, he got the ball rolling on the organisation.’
  • the whole ball of wax

    • informal Everything.

      • ‘However, his nominees suggest that he's going to go straight out and try to go for the whole ball of wax at first.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They still are playing for the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘The point of the book is nobody has to take over the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘That includes a consultation, an exam, and your first adjustment, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alpinism is the whole ball of wax, not just one aspect of climbing.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • ball (britishballs) something up

    • Bungle something.

      • ‘Of course, there is also the possibility that you could write a truly outstanding speech, only to then completely balls it up when the time comes to deliver it!’
      • ‘I well and truly went over board and completely balled it up.’
      wreck, ruin, spoil, disrupt, undo, upset, play havoc with, make a mess of, put an end to, end, bring to an end, put a stop to, terminate, prevent, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, vitiate, blast, devastate, demolish, sabotage, torpedo
      View synonyms


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




Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2



  • A formal social gathering for dancing.

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

      ‘I had a ball on my fortieth birthday’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Despite the poor weather conditions on the day everyone enjoyed themselves and had a ball.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The band were loving it and having a ball, the vibe was just amazing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dave said: ‘I'm having a ball, although part of me obviously misses Thailand.’’
      • ‘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.’
      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).