Baseball Idioms: 17 Ways Baseball Has Influenced Ordinary Speech


Baseball imageIt’s September, the final month of regular season baseball. That’s good news for me, because I am a long-time Phillies fan and they are having a great year (In fact, I’m watching a game as I type). Then again, you may have no interest in baseball whatsoever (a sad thing to consider). But whether you are passionate or indifferent to the game, I bet baseball lingo has infiltrated your day-to-day speech.

Let’s list some of the ways baseball jargon has flavored and enriched American English. Here are a few examples of common idioms that come directly from baseball:

  • in the ballpark/ballpark figure: “I didn’t predict the score exactly, but I was in the ballpark.”
  • batting a thousand : “That’s another sale! So far today I’m batting a thousand.”
  • throw a curve ball: “I had the plan down until my boss threw me a curve ball.”
  • cover all the bases: “Before you start the project, be sure to have all your bases covered.”
  • get to first base: “I met with the client, but we didn’t even get to first base.”
  • go to bat for someone: “I would have been in big trouble if Ed wasn’t willing to go to bat for me.”
  • play hardball: “If we are going to stay competitive, we’re going to have to play hardball with our competition.”
  • knock it out of the park: “John’s presentation was great; he really knocked it out of the park.”
  • out of left field: “Boy, that comment was out of left field.”
  • way off base: “His ideas for reforming education are way off base.”
  • rain check: “I can’t make our lunch. Can I have a rain check?”
  • right off the bat: “I made a good impression right off the bat.”
  • screwball: “The guy with the clown shoes is a real screwball.”
  • step up to the plate: “We are in big trouble until a real leader steps up to the plate.”
  • three strikes: “He better not mess up again; he’s already got two strikes against him.”
  • touch base: “Call me next week so we can touch base.”
  • whole new ball game: “I understand Algebra well enough, but Trigonometry is a whole new ball game.”

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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