Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2

ball1

noun

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

    ‘a cricket ball’
    1. 1.1A spherical object or mass of material.
      ‘a ball of wool’
      ‘he crushed the card into a ball’
    2. 1.2historical A solid non-explosive missile for a firearm.
    3. 1.3mass noun A game played with a ball.
      ‘he comes across a group of kids playing ball’
    4. 1.4North American mass noun Baseball.
      ‘kids have been playing ball in that lot for almost a hundred years’
      ‘young men would graduate from college and enter pro ball’
  • 2(in cricket) a delivery of the ball by the bowler to the batsman.

    ‘his half century came off only forty balls’
    1. 2.1(in soccer) a pass of the ball in a specified direction or manner.
      ‘Whelan sent a long ball to Goddard’
    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’
  • 3

    (also ball of the foot)
    The rounded protuberant part of the foot at the base of the big toe.

    1. 3.1The rounded protuberant part of the hand at the base of the thumb.

verb

[with object]
  • 1Squeeze or form (something) into a rounded shape.

    ‘Robert balled up his napkin and threw it on to his plate’
    1. 1.1Clench (one's fist) tightly.
      ‘she balled her fist so that the nails dug into her palms’
    2. 1.2no object Form a round shape.
      ‘the fishing nets eventually ball up and sink’
    3. 1.3Wrap the root ball of (a tree or shrub) to protect it during transportation.
  • 2North American vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse with.

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

Phrases

    keep the ball rolling
    • Maintain the momentum of an activity.

    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.

    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’
    on the ball
    • 1Alert to new ideas, methods, and trends.

      ‘maintaining contact with customers keeps me on the ball’
      1. 1.1Indicating competence, alertness, or intelligence.
        ‘a woman like that, with so much on the ball’
    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’
    play ball
    • 1informal Work willingly with others; cooperate.

      ‘if his lawyers won't play ball, there's nothing we can do’
    • 2Baseball
      The umpire's command to begin or resume play.

    the whole ball of wax
    North American informal
    • Everything.

    a ball of fire
    • A person full of energy and enthusiasm.

Phrasal Verbs

    ball something up
    North American informal
    • Bungle or mismanage something.

Origin

Middle English from Old Norse bǫllr, of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation

ball

/bɔːl/

Main definitions of ball in English

: ball1ball2

ball2

noun

  • A formal social gathering for dancing.

    ‘Anne danced with the captain at a fancy-dress ball’
    as modifier ‘a ball gown’
    • ‘I had many offers to balls and social gatherings but I had never accepted.’
    • ‘They were in great demand for hunt balls, ballroom dancing, weddings and other social gatherings.’
    • ‘An invitation to a formal dance or ball is the perfect excuse to indulge in your fairytale fantasies.’
    • ‘The girls planned their ball gowns for weeks ahead and the talk was about boys from a nearby Catholic school.’
    • ‘You're probably swanning around the place up there right now in a ball gown and heels…’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He watched as his mother emerged from her room, dressed in her ball gown and sparkling in rubies.’
    • ‘She thought wistfully of the elegant ball gown that had been made just for tonight.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I also liked dancing at the palace balls and playing the flute.’
    • ‘Social balls and charity have morphed into PR events and openings.’
    • ‘Which was the reason why I still went to balls and the social functions of the season.’
    • ‘Banquets, balls, dinner dances, bazaars and fetes, exhibitions and civic receptions were held there in its proud heyday.’
    • ‘It was the morning of the debutante ball and I was giving Ryan last minute dance lessons.’
    • ‘After all, you don't miss your debutante ball, especially when your family is hosting it.’
    • ‘It was long and gauzy; it felt like something that should be worn to a masquerade ball, or a prom.’
    • ‘I just wanted to tell you that you'll be having a debutante ball on your birthday!’
    • ‘However, most did boast a formal music room, where recitals and smaller dances and balls could be held.’
    dance, dinner dance, masked ball, masquerade, tea dance
    View synonyms

Phrases

    have a ball
    informal
    • Enjoy oneself greatly.

      ‘I was miserable but he was having a ball’
      • ‘The many young Spanish students who are in town over the past few weeks are having a ball and really enjoyed ‘Music Week’.’
      • ‘Despite the poor weather conditions on the day everyone enjoyed themselves and had 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.’
      • ‘Normally I don't enjoy it that much but this year I really 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 band were loving it and having a ball, the vibe was just amazing.’
      • ‘Dave said: ‘I'm having a ball, although part of me obviously misses Thailand.’’
      • ‘We are having a ball and the weather has just crowned it all.’
      • ‘But just before he disappears, he switches off the tape recorder and confides: ‘I'm having a ball!’’
      • ‘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.’

Origin

Early 17th century from French bal ‘a dance’, from late Latin ballare ‘to dance’; related to Greek ballizein ‘to dance’ (also ballein ‘to throw’).

Pronunciation

ball

/bɔːl/