Definition of ball and chain in English:

ball and chain


  • 1A heavy metal ball secured by a chain to the leg of a prisoner to prevent escape.

    ‘A believer in strict discipline, he preferred forms of punishment like putting a prisoner in stocks or shackling him to a ball and chain.’
    • ‘They're bringing it back to the days when they made you wear stripes and now a chain, a ball and chain.’
    • ‘For the walls of their new London headquarters, officials have forked out £4,877 for 77 wood carvings and paintings plus a sculpture of a ball and chain by convicts.’
    • ‘She grabbed both of Mazing's wrists and held her still while Kat dragged the ball and chain and used that to tie Mazing's wrists together.’
    • ‘You can't give it a ball and chain and train it like a dog, or else it just wouldn't be anarchy.’
    • ‘We have had some funny items over the years, including a ball and chain.’
    • ‘They tend to dress them up in a ball and chain, these sort of schoolboy pranks.’
    • ‘Now I'm serving time in a Lincoln County Jail for armed robbery, wearing a striped ensemble with a ball and chain around my ankle.’
    • ‘For her, motherhood was ‘like being in a three-legged race with a ball and chain on the legs’.’
    • ‘Backing away, I took as many steps as the metal ball and chain allowed.’
    • ‘The second thief watched in shocked as the ball and chain wrapped around his ankles before colliding into his right shin.’
    • ‘Petey was about as much help as a ball and chain attached to her leg, and so it was probably better for him to stay locked away.’
    • ‘He untangled himself from the ball and chain he had on his arm and walked over to her.’
    • ‘Any other way of living would be like having a ball and chain tied to your ankle.’
    • ‘On the train on the way there, we saw a man with a ball and chain attached to his leg.’
    • ‘To make his point, last summer he attached a heavy steel ball and chain to his ankle and dragged it up and down Lake Street.’
    • ‘This included high heel shoes, underwear, shovels, wheelbarrow, sledge hammers, ball and chains, etc.’
    • ‘Still, I look at that pager and think that while it weighs mere ounces, it could end up feeling like a ball and chain.’
    • ‘As the U.S. economy has struggled to recover over the past 21 months, weak global demand has been like a ball and chain holding it back.’
    • ‘Student loans will be like a ball and chain around the ankles of graduates, affecting their life choice for decades.’
    1. 1.1A crippling encumbrance.
      ‘the ball and chain of debt’
      • ‘It's like a noose, it's like a ball and chain around the U.S. economy's foot or neck, or wherever the heck it is.’
      • ‘Too often debt burden becomes a ball and chain for student borrowers after graduation.’
      • ‘You're not here to keep me company, you're my ball and chain!’
      • ‘‘I'm carrying it around like a ball and chain,’ she said.’
      • ‘But at the same time, I have a ball and chain here.’
      • ‘But giving them exclusive rights to an idea - especially when others appear to be coming up with it independently is a serious ball and chain on innovation.’
      • ‘A cell phone is practically sewn to your waist, a BlackBerry is virtually glued to your hand and instant messaging ties you to your boss like a ball and chain.’
      • ‘Into this churning social dynamo steps a group of idealistic immigrants, dragging a ball and chain of old-world sorrows.’
      • ‘With force stabilization, the Army is set to cast off the ball and chain and completely transform how it mans units.’
      • ‘His heaviest burden is his ball and chain of example.’
      • ‘Logistics threatens to become a ball and chain to operational flexibility.’
      • ‘But he said, ‘you cannot dance in the present if you're carrying around a ball and chain from the past.’’
      • ‘Drag yourself away from that ball and chain that is your VCR and TV and get thee to the rep house.’
      • ‘It's as though there's a ball and chain effect with things you really care about.’
      • ‘The reporters here were drawing on the stereotype of the wife as ball and chain for humorous effect.’
      • ‘And spare a thought for all those others, whose names are a ball and chain they must pull after them through the wilderness of this world.’
      • ‘The act is perceived as a ball and chain by Air Canada, the only airline affected by the regulations.’
      • ‘I wanted to hack off the ball and chain of personality.’
      • ‘I know I have responsibilities of my own, but they no longer seem to anchor me down like the ball and chain that was my past.’
      • ‘You've been nothing but a ball and chain of heartache and hurt hanging around my neck for too many Godforsaken years.’
      impediment, hindrance, obstacle, barrier, bar, encumbrance


ball and chain

/ˌbôl (ə)n ˈCHān/ /ˌbɔl (ə)n ˈtʃeɪn/