Meaning of BALL in English
spherical or ovoid object for throwing, hitting, or kicking in various sports and games. The ball is mentioned in the earliest recorded literatures and finds a place in some of the oldest graphic representations. Some form of ball game is portrayed on early Egyptian monuments. Even among the Romans, who disliked participation sports, ball play was extremely popular. The Roman baths set aside an apartment for ball play, and many gentlemen had ball courts in their private villas. The ancient Roman ball was usually made of leather strips sewn together and filled with various materials. The smallest, the harpastum, was a hard ball stuffed with feathers. The largest, the follis, contained an air-filled bladder, similar to a modern soccer ball or basketball. In many early games the ball was simply thrown back and forth among a group of individuals, but there were also genuine team games and competitions among the ancient Greeks. Ball games were especially popular at Sparta. One early Greek game known as episkyros involved two teams of equal numbers. Between them a white line was laid out, and, at some distance behind each team, another line was marked. The play consisted in throwing the ball back and forth until one team in the exchange was finally forced back over its rear line. Ball playing also is of great antiquity in western Europe, and an early form of lacrosse was well established among the American Indians before Christopher Columbus sailed the Atlantic. As skills required in games using the ball alone, and more particularly in games involving the use of various implements for striking it, were developed and refined, balls became specialized and available in a multiplicity of types. The weight and circumference of various balls have been changed over the years as the other equipment and rules of the individual sports have changed in order to increase the interest of the spectators. An example is the change made in the American football, with the popularization of the forward pass, from the egg-shaped rugby ball to a more elongated shape that was easier to throw with accuracy. This variation changed the sport from a running game to one in which the forward pass also played an exciting role.
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012