ball

1 of 3

noun (1)

often attributive
1
: a round or roundish body or mass: such as
a
: a spherical or ovoid body used in a game or sport
a tennis ball
used figuratively in phrases like the ball is in your court to indicate who has the responsibility or opportunity for further action
b
c
: a spherical or conical projectile
also : projectiles used in firearms
d
: a roundish protuberant anatomical structure (as near the tip of a human finger or toe or at the base of a thumb)
especially : the part of the sole of the human foot between the toes and arch on which the main weight of the body rests in normal walking
2
a
usually vulgar : testis
b balls plural
(1)
often vulgar : nonsense
often used interjectionally
(2)
often vulgar : nerve sense 3
3
: a game in which a ball is thrown, kicked, or struck
also : quality of play in such a game
4
a
: a pitch not swung at by the batter that fails to pass through the strike zone
b
: a hit or thrown ball in various games
foul ball

ball

2 of 3

verb

balled; balling

transitive verb

1
: to form or gather into a ball
balled the paper into a wad
2
usually vulgar : to have sexual intercourse with

intransitive verb

1
: to form or gather into a ball
2
usually vulgar : to engage in sexual intercourse
3
US, informal : to play basketball
Common shot all his own scenes on the hardwood, balling against NBA superstars Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. Chris Richards

ball

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: a large formal gathering for social dancing
2
: a very pleasant experience : a good time
everyone had a ball at the wedding
Phrases
on the ball
1
: competent, knowledgeable, alert
the other introductory essay … is much more on the ball The Times Literary Supplement (London)
keep on the ball
2
: of ability or competence
if the teacher has something on the ball, the pupils won't squirm much New Yorker

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Example Sentences

Verb I stood up quickly and balled my hands into fists. He balled the letter in his hands and threw it in the trash.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English bal, probably from Old English *beall; akin to Old English bealluc testis, Old High German balla ball, Old Norse bǫllr, Old English blāwan to blow — more at blow

Noun (2)

French bal, from Old French, from baller to dance, from Late Latin ballare, from Greek ballizein

First Known Use

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1577, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ball was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near ball

Cite this Entry

“Ball.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ball. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

ball 1 of 3

noun

1
: something round or roundish
a ball of yarn
2
: a round or roundish object used in a game or sport
3
: a game or sport (as baseball) played with a ball
4
: a solid usually round shot for a gun
5
: the rounded bulge at the base of the thumb or big toe
the ball of the foot
6
: a pitched baseball that is not hit and is not a strike

ball

2 of 3

verb

balled; balling
: to make or come together into a ball
He balled his fists.

ball

3 of 3

noun

1
: a large formal party for dancing
2
: a good time
I had a ball at the wedding.

Medical Definition

ball 1 of 2

noun

: a round or roundish body or mass: as
a
: a roundish protuberant part of the body: as
(1)
: the rounded eminence by which the base of the thumb is continuous with the palm of the hand
(2)
: the rounded broad part of the sole of the human foot between toes and arch and on which the main weight of the body first rests in normal walking
(3)
: the padded rounded underside of a human finger or toe near the tip
b
c
often vulgar : testis
d
: a large pill (as one used in veterinary medicine) : bolus

ball

2 of 2

transitive verb

: to give a medicinal ball to (as a horse)

Biographical Definition

Ball 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

John died 1381 English priest and social agitator

Ball

2 of 2

biographical name (2)

Lucille (Désirée) 1911–1989 American actress and comedienne

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