There are 2 main definitions of ball in English:


Line breaks: ball
Pronunciation: /bɔːl


1A solid or hollow spherical or egg-shaped object that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game: a cricket ball
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Coaches end up teaching the teens how to kick a soccer ball, leap hurdles or swing a bat.
1.1A spherical object or mass of material: a ball of wool he crushed the card into a ball
More example sentences
  • Then they chew the fibrous fruit into a ball of pulp and spend ages sucking out the goodness.
  • It exploded in an orange ball of flame sending sand and metal fragments flying.
  • Suddenly the boat exploded into a great ball of flame, sending pieces of it skyward.
1.2 historical A solid spherical non-explosive projectile for a cannon: the ship fired again—this time the ball made a hit
More example sentences
  • Also uncovered were musket balls, cannonballs, a grenade and tools.
  • Eight of the lead musket balls have been flattened from impact, while others show mold lines, indicating that they had never been used.
  • 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.
bullet, projectile, shot, pellet, slug, lead
1.3 [mass noun] A game played with a ball: he comes across a group of kids playing ball
More example sentences
  • I try to stay vertical with the kite, while the kids run around, play ball or climb trees.
  • On summer evenings I could listen to the voices of the older children playing ball.
  • They weren't, apparently, breaking any park rules by playing ball.
1.4 [mass noun] North American Baseball: young men would graduate from college and enter pro ball
More example sentences
  • Every year pro ball bears less and less resemblance to the game collegians and kids play.
  • He has played only two full years of pro ball but probably will be ready for the majors within two years.
  • He fully realizes how rare it is to play high school, college, and pro ball in the same city.
2A single throw, kick, or hit of the ball in a game, in particular:
More example sentences
  • When he played for Dallas, there were games when not a single ball would be thrown in his direction.
  • They got a single off the first ball and then Matthew Garside smashed the next two balls for six.
  • His fastball is reaching its old velocity, and he has been throwing breaking balls in extended spring games.
2.1 Cricket A delivery of the ball by the bowler to the batsman: his half century came off only forty balls
More example sentences
  • Each innings consists of 30 balls with batsmen retiring at 30 runs.
  • I remember commercials ran till just in time to show the bowler releasing the second ball of the over.
  • With his last ball in Test cricket, Davidson had Alan Smith, of England, caught behind.
2.2 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • A lefthanded hitter, he has shown good power, aggressively attacking balls in the strike zone.
2.3 Soccer A pass of the ball in a specified direction or manner: Whelan sent a long ball to Goddard
More example sentences
  • It could be frustrating for Rooney to go from Beckham dropping accurate balls over his shoulder to Everton players delivering wayward passes.
  • He is inspirational in the heart of midfield, slipping intelligent balls through to the strikers, and possess a fearsome shot.
  • He pounced on a loose ball to and passed to Duff who fed it through to Hasselbaink inside the penalty area.


[with object] Back to top  
1Squeeze or form (something) into a rounded shape: Robert balled up his napkin and threw it on to his plate
More example sentences
  • He grinned, balling the cloth napkin on the table and throwing it my way.
  • Unclasping the cloak, he caught it before it flew away and balled it untidily to tuck under his arm.
  • A moment later, I catch the dishrag she'd balled up and thrown at me.
1.1Clench (one’s fist) tightly: she balled her fist so that the nails dug into her palms
More example sentences
  • He balled his hands into fists, gritting his teeth tightly.
  • She balled her hands into fists at her sides and clenched her teeth with rage.
  • He yawned and stretched his arms out, balling his hands into fists.
1.2 [no object] Form a round shape: the fishing nets eventually ball up and sink
More example sentences
  • Tiny mussels balled around the oysters, keeping them small and making them unfit for market.
  • Closer and closer, the lightning force that was balling up in between the two was slowly moving its way towards Maddy.
  • The man gave a scream of agony, balling up to clutch at his injury.
1.3Wrap the root ball of (a tree or shrub) in hessian to protect it during transportation.
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Harvesting of balled, live trees may begin after completion of growth in late August or early September if soil moisture conditions are favorable.
  • Spring is best for planting, but you can put balled and burlapped or container grown hollies in the ground in early spring or fall.
2North American vulgar slang Have sexual intercourse with (someone).
3 [no object] British (Of a flower) fail to open properly, decaying in the half-open bud.


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


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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

a ball of fire

A person who is full of energy and enthusiasm.
More example sentences
  • 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.
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
More example sentences
  • Some archers wear a thumb ring to protect the ball of the thumb from the string when it is released.
  • As a quick check the texture should be similar to that of the ball of the thumb of a closed fist.
  • Therefore, the ball of the thumb is often severely strained, especially when snowboarding.

have a lot (or not much) on the ball

US Have a lot of (or not much) ability.
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • He really has a lot on the ball and I think that he will be a great candidate.
  • However, I suspect he had a lot on the ball to begin with.

keep the ball rolling

Maintain the momentum of an activity.
More example sentences
  • Her duty was to breezily keep the ball rolling, maintaining the appearance of a freewheeling, open dialogue while steering the topic in positive directions.
  • A bingo session on Wednesday and a quiz night on Thursday kept the ball rolling ahead of tomorrow's showcase event.
  • Mr Knight told the Evening Press today: ‘I hope I can keep the ball rolling on this.’

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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • He took his eye off the ball and did not really appreciate that the client was manipulating him.

on the ball

Aware of and quick to respond to new ideas and methods: maintaining contact with customers keeps me on the ball
More example sentences
  • It seems that Jim is really on the ball these days.
  • Luckily he was more on the ball and able to sort me out a disk.
  • When a customer complains, you need to be on the ball and get things done for them.

play ball

informal Work willingly with others; cooperate: if his solicitors won’t play ball, there’s nothing we can do
More example sentences
  • But his officials believe the vice-chancellors are willing to play ball.
  • If the contractor is willing to play ball, then you can launch the project immediately.
  • We imagine they won't be willing to play ball on this front.

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
More example sentences
  • The out-going General Manager has started the ball rolling!
  • 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.
  • Using his own money and living in his parent's basement, he got the ball rolling on the organisation.

the whole ball of wax

North American informal Everything.
More example sentences
  • They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax.
  • However, his nominees suggest that he's going to go straight out and try to go for the whole ball of wax at first.
  • ‘The quintessential entrepreneur is someone who wants to put his hands around the whole ball of wax,’ says Kriss.

Definition of ball in:

There are 2 main definitions of ball in English:


Line breaks: ball
Pronunciation: /bɔːl


A formal social gathering for dancing: Anne danced with the captain at a fancy-dress ball [as modifier]: a ball gown
More example sentences
  • 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.
North American hoedown, prom;
Frenchthé dansant
informal hop, disco, bop


early 17th century: from French bal 'a dance', from late Latin ballare 'to dance'; related to Greek ballizein 'to dance' (also ballein 'to throw').


have a ball

informal Enjoy oneself greatly: I was miserable but he was having a ball
More example sentences
  • 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.
have a good time, have a great time, have fun, have the time of one's life;
informal let one's hair down, whoop it up, have a fling, make whoopee, push the boat out, paint the town red, live it up

Definition of ball in: