< /ˈwaɪld mən/, 1909–1994, U.S. lawyer, investment banker, and government official.

  • John,died 1381, English priest: one of the leaders of Wat Tyler’s peasants’ revolt in 1381.
  • Lucille,1911–89, U.S. actress.
  • noun

    1. a spherical or nearly spherical body or massa ball of wool
    2. a round or roundish body, either solid or hollow, of a size and composition suitable for any of various games: football, golf, billiards, etc
    3. a ball propelled in a particular way in a sporta high ball
    4. any of various rudimentary games with a ballto play ball
    5. cricket a single delivery of the ball by the bowler to the batsman
    6. baseball a single delivery of the ball by a pitcher outside certain limits and not swung at by the batter
      1. a solid nonexplosive projectile for a firearmCompare shell (def. 6)
      2. such projectiles collectively
    7. any more or less rounded part or protuberancethe ball of the foot
    8. slang a testicleSee balls
    9. vet science another word for bolus
    10. horticulture the hard mass of roots and earth removed with the rest of the plant during transplanting
    11. ball of muscle Australian a very strong, fit, or forceful person
    12. have the ball at one’s feet to have the chance of doing something
    13. keep the ball rolling to maintain the progress of a project, plan, etc
    14. on the ball informal alert; informed
    15. play ball informal to cooperate
    16. set the ball rolling or start the ball rolling to open or initiate (an action, discussion, movement, etc)
    17. the ball is in your court you are obliged to make the next move


    1. (tr) to make, form, wind, etc, into a ball or ballsto ball wool
    2. (intr) to gather into a ball or balls
    3. taboo, slang, mainly US to copulate (with)


    1. a social function for dancing, esp one that is lavish or formal
    2. informal a very enjoyable time (esp in the phrase have a ball)


    1. John . died 1381, English priest: executed as one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt (1381)

    “round object,” Old English *beal, from or corresponding to Old Norse bollr “ball,” from Proto-Germanic *balluz (cf. Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) “to blow, inflate, swell” (see bole).

    Meaning “testicle” is from early 14c. Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. A ball as an object in a sports game is recorded from c.1200; To have the ball “hold the advantage” is from c.1400. To be on the ball is 1912, from sports. Ball-point pen first recorded 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to “a glass of brandy;” as “spectacularly successful striver” it is c.1900.


    “dancing party,” 1630s, from French, from Old French baller “to dance,” from Late Latin ballare “to dance,” from Greek ballizein “to dance, jump about” (see ballistics). Hence, “very enjoyable time,” 1945, American English slang, perhaps back to 1930s in black slang.


    1650s, “make into a ball,” from ball (n.1). Sense of “to become like a ball” is 1713; that of “to copulate” is first recorded 1940s in jazz slang, either from the noun sense of “testicle” or “enjoyable time” (from ball (n.2)). Related: Balled; balling.


    1. A spherical object or mass.
    2. A bezoar.
    3. A large pill or bolus.

    In addition to the idioms beginning with ball

    • ball and chain
    • ball of fire
    • ball up

    also see:

    • behind the eight ball
    • break one’s balls
    • by the balls
    • carry the ball
    • crystal ball
    • drop the ball
    • eyeball to eyeball
    • get the ball rolling
    • have a ball
    • have one’s eye on the ball
    • have someone by the balls
    • on the ball
    • play ball
    • put in mothballs
    • snowball’s chance in hell
    • that’s how the ball bounces
    • whole ball of wax
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