Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: SHAPES, PATTERNS

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

ball

1 noun
     
ball
ball1 S1 W2
1

round object

DS [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.
2

round shape

CF [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 somebody'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

DL [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) testicles
b) courage:
I didn't have the balls to ask.
c) British English spoken something that is stupid or wrong [= nonsense]:
That's a load of balls!
balls1
11

a fast/good/long etc ball

DS 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

DS a ball that is thrown too high, low etc towards someone trying to hit it, in the games of cricket or rounders
13

baseball

DSB [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 [= everything]
15

a ball of fire

informal someone who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm
16

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
17

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.
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