Idioms With “Ball” and Meanings

List of idioms with the word “Ball” and the meanings. Idioms about “Ball” and expressions.

in a difficult situation or position
1. Barbara’s parents have told her to study medicine but she really wants to study law. How is she going to explain this to them? She’s behind the eight ball.
2. My wife wants me to hire my brother-in-law to work in my company, but I don’t want to because he’s very lazy.

***I’m behind the eight ball on this one.
Synonyms: back to the wall; in a bind/fix/jam; between the devil and the deep blue sea; between a rock and a hard place

The expression comes from the game of billiards, or pool, in which the eight ball is always pocketed last. If one accidentally sinks the eight ball before the others, one automatically loses the game. Trying to hit another ball that is too close to the eight ball is seen as a risky situation.

to take on work or responsibility in order to keep a project moving forward

1. We need more people to help get this work done on time. Are you going to sit there and do nothing or are you going to help carry the ball?

2. The people in the office were sorry to see Amira leave the company. She was such a dependable worker and you could always count on her to carry the ball.

to maintain momentum; to keep some process going

1. The principal has done so much and worked so hard to improve this school. Who’s going to keep the ball rolling when she retires?

2. Mr. Preston had managed to motivate his employees to higher production levels, and he wanted to keep them going. He wondered how he could keep the ball rolling.

mentally sharp or alert; well-prepared; efficient

1. You’ve been making too many mistakes these days. You’d better get on the ball if you want to keep your job.

2. I can’t seem to concentrate today. I’m just not on the ball.
Antonym: out to lunch

to work or act aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics

1. You have to be willing to play hardball in the business world today. If you aren’t aggressive, you’ll be taken over by the competition.

2. Mr. Norton had been mayor of a small town for many years, but when he decided to run for Congress his friends told him he would have to be prepared to play hardball. National politics can be much more aggressive than local politics.

The expression originates from the game of baseball, which uses a hard ball, as opposed to the similar game of softball.

no chance at all
1. Kay has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into that college. She has bad grades and poor exam scores.

2. They don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of raising enough money to send him on that trip, because they don’t have anything worth selling.

The expression suggests that the likelihood of something happening is as small as the probability that a snowball will not melt in the fires of hell.

1. a wife. (Mostly jocular.) I’ve got to get home to my ball and chain. My ball and chain is mad at me.

2. a person’s special burden; a job. (Prisoners sometimes were fettered with a chain attached to a leg on one end and to a heavy metal ball on the other.)

***Tom wanted to quit his job. He said he was tired of that old ball and chain.

***Mr. Franklin always referred to his wife as his ball and chain.

a situation in which everything goes wrong
something not at all similar Sports are very popular but the Olympics are a different ball of wax.
an unpleasant man who is friendly in a way which is not sincere
a completely different situation, often one which is difficult or which you know very little about
an energetic and ambitious person; a go-getter.
to enjoy yourself very much
to have a lot of fun
troubled; confused; in a mess.
to be quick to understand and to react to things
1. Lit. to be the player who is relied on to gain yardage, especially in football. It was the fullback carrying the ball. Yes, Tom always carries the ball.

2. Fig. to be in charge; to be considered reliable enough to make sure that a job gets done.

***We need someone who knows how to get the job done. Hey, Sally! Why don’t you carry the ball for us? John can’t carry the ball. He isn’t organized enough.

1. . Lit. [in a ball game of some type]to let the ball get away or fall out of one’s grasp. Good grief! Bill dropped the ball, just as he was about to score!

2. Fig. to make a blunder; to fail in some way.

***Everything was going fine in the election until my campaign manager dropped the ball. You can’t trust John to do the job right. He’s always dropping the ball.

to have a particular amount of smartness or cleverness.
1. Lit. to have a ball belonging to a game played on a court on one’s side of the court. You have the ball in your court, so hit it back to me!

2. . Fig. to be responsible for the next move in some process; to have to make a response to something that someone else has started. You have the ball in your court now. You have to answer the attorney’s questions. There was no way that Liz could avoid responding. She had the ball in her court.

1. Fig. to watch or follow the ball carefully, especially when one is playing a ball game; to follow the details of a ball game very carefully. John, if you can’t keep your eye on the ball, I’ll have to take you out of the game. “Keep your eye on the ball!” the coach roared at the players.

2. . Fig. to remain alert to the events occurring around oneself. If you want to get along in this office, you’re going to have to keep your eye on the ball. Bill would do better in his classes if he would just keep his eye on the ball.

Fig. a completely different situation; something completely different.
Sl. to make something more masculine or powerful; to give something authority and strength. (Potentially offensive. Use only with discretion.)


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