Meaning of BALL in English


I. ball 1 S1 W2 /bɔːl $ bɒːl/ BrE AmE noun

[ Sense 1-7, 10-17: Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: böllr ]

[ Sense 8-9: Date: 1600-1700 ; Language: French ; Origin: bal , from Old French baller 'to dance' , from Late Latin ballare , from Greek ballizein ]

1 . ROUND OBJECT [countable] a round object that is thrown, kicked, or hit in a game or sport

throw/hit/kick/catch etc a ball

Weiskopf hit the ball 330 yards and a cheer went up.

a tennis/golf/cricket etc ball

2 . ROUND SHAPE [countable] something formed or rolled into a round shape:

a ball of string

Shape the dough into balls.

3 . GAME/SPORT [uncountable] any game or sport played with a ball, especially baseball or ↑ basketball :

D'you want to go out and play ball?

Dad likes college ball.

4 . FOOT/HAND the ball of the foot/hand the rounded part of the foot at the base of the toes, or the rounded part of the hand at the base of the thumb

5 . on the ball informal able to think or act quickly and intelligently:

an assistant who’s really on the ball

6 . set/start/keep the ball rolling to start something happening:

To start the ball rolling, the government was asked to contribute £1 million.

7 . the ball is in sb’s court it is their turn to take action or to reply:

I’ve emailed him – now the ball’s in his court.

8 . FORMAL OCCASION [countable] a large formal occasion at which people dance

9 . have a ball informal to have a very good time

10 . balls [plural] informal not polite

a) ↑ testicle s

b) courage:

I didn’t have the balls to ask.

c) British English spoken something that is stupid or wrong SYN nonsense :

That’s a load of balls!

⇨ ↑ balls 1

11 . a fast/good/long etc ball a ball that is thrown, hit, or kicked fast etc in a game or sport:

He hit a long ball to right field.

12 . CRICKET no ball a ball that is thrown too high, low etc towards someone trying to hit it, in the game of ↑ cricket or ↑ rounders

13 . BASEBALL no ball [countable] a ball that the hitter does not try to hit, because it is not within the correct area

14 . the whole ball of wax American English informal the whole thing SYN everything

15 . a ball of fire informal someone who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm

16 . keep several/too many etc balls in the air to struggle to deal with more than one problem or job at the same time:

The company just won’t be able to keep that many balls in the air.

17 . drop the ball ( also take your eye off the ball ) to make a mistake when dealing with something because you stop thinking carefully or paying attention

18 . ball-buster/ball-breaker informal

a) a problem that is very difficult to deal with

b) an offensive word for a woman who uses her authority over men

⇨ ↑ cannonball , ↑ crystal ball , ↑ wrecking ball , ⇨ play ball at ↑ play 1 (7)

• • •


■ verbs

▪ throw a ball

Suzy threw the ball to Matthew.

▪ catch a ball

He’s useless at sport; he can’t even catch a ball.

▪ hit a ball

He swung the bat back and hit the ball hard.

▪ kick a ball

Greg kicked the ball upfield to Will.

▪ bounce a ball

He was in the yard bouncing a ball against the wall.

▪ get the ball

Then the Cowboys got the ball again.

▪ miss a ball (=not catch or hit it)

I was trying hard but I kept missing the ball.

▪ a ball rolls

The ball just rolled past the hole.

▪ a ball flies/sails

The ball flew over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net.

▪ a ball bounces

In tennis, the ball must only bounce once.

▪ a ball rebounds (=hits something and moves back and away from it again)

The ball hit the goalpost and rebounded.


▪ a tennis/cricket/golf/rugby etc ball

She was practising hitting golf balls.

▪ a ping-pong/billiard/snooker etc ball

He was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball.

▪ a beach ball (=a large light ball used on the beach)

Dad, will you blow up the beach ball?

■ ball + NOUN

▪ a ball game

He’s always watching ball games on TV.

▪ ball skills

Practising ball skills helps a child’s coordination.

II. ball 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

1 . ( also ball up ) to make something form a small round shape:

Ray balled up his fists.

2 . American English informal not polite to have sex with a woman

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.