Bali Look up Bali at Dictionary.com
island in the Indonesian archipelago, of unknown origin. Related: Balinese.
balk (n.) Look up balk at Dictionary.com
also baulk, Old English balca "ridge, bank," from or influenced by Old Norse balkr "ridge of land," especially between two plowed furrows, both from Proto-Germanic *balkon- (source also of Old Saxon balko, Danish bjelke, Old Frisian balka, Old High German balcho, German Balken "beam, rafter"), from PIE root *bhelg- "beam, plank" (source also of Latin fulcire "to prop up, support," fulcrum "bedpost;" Lithuanian balziena "cross-bar;" and possibly Greek phalanx "trunk, log, line of battle"). Italian balco "a beam" is from Germanic (see balcony).

In old use especially "an unplowed strip in a field, often along and marking a boundary." Modern senses are figurative, representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (see balk (v.)). In baseball, "a motion made by the pitcher as if to deliver the ball, but without doing so," first attested 1845 perhaps from the notion of "a piece missed in plowing" as "a blunder, a failure."
balk (v.) Look up balk at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "to leave an unplowed ridge when plowing," from balk (n.). Extended meaning "to omit, intentionally neglect" is mid-15c. Most modern senses are figurative, from the notion of a balk in the fields as a hindrance or obstruction: sense of "stop short in one's course" (as a horse confronted with an obstacle) is late 15c.; that of "to refuse" is 1580s. Related: Balked; balking.
Balkan (adj.) Look up Balkan at Dictionary.com
1835, "of or pertaining to the Balkans" (q.v.) or to the mountain range that runs across them.
Balkanise (v.) Look up Balkanise at Dictionary.com
see Balkanize. Related: Balkanisation.
Balkanize (v.) Look up Balkanize at Dictionary.com
1920, first used in reference to the Baltic states, on the model of what had happened in the Balkans; said to have been coined by English editor James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), but A.J. Toynbee (1922) credited it to "German Socialists" describing the results of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Either way, the reference is to the political situation in the Balkans c. 1878-1913, when the European section of the Ottoman Empire split up into small, warring nations. Balkanized and Balkanization both also are from 1920.
Balkans Look up Balkans at Dictionary.com
the mountainous peninsula between the Adriatic and Black seas (including Greece), probably from Turkic balkan "mountain."
balky (adj.) Look up balky at Dictionary.com
"apt to stop abruptly and refuse to move," 1847, from balk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Balkily; balkiness.
ball (n.1) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
"round object, spherical body," c. 1200, from Old English *beal (evidenced by the diminutive bealluc), or from cognate Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (source also of Dutch bal, Flemish bal, Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).

Meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. (compare (see ballocks). Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. A ball as an object in a sports game is recorded from c. 1200; meaning "a game played with a ball" is from mid-14c. Baseball sense of "pitch that does not cross the plate within the strike zone" is by 1889, probably short for high ball, low ball, etc.

Ball-point pen is by 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is c. 1900. Many phrases are from sports: To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c. 1400. To be on the ball is from 1912; to keep (one's) eye on the ball is from 1907. Figurative use of ball in (someone's) court is by 1963, from tennis.
ball (n.2) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
"dancing party, social assembly for dancing," 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 African-American vernacular.
ball (v.) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
1650s, "make into a ball," from ball (n.1). Intransitive sense of "become like a ball, form a compact cluster" is from 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.
ball and chain (n.) Look up ball and chain at Dictionary.com
a type of prisoner's restraint, 1818; as "one's wife," 1920.
ball-bearing (n.) Look up ball-bearing at Dictionary.com
1883, "method of lessening friction by surrounding a shaft with loose balls," from ball (n.1) + bearing.
ball-boy (n.) Look up ball-boy at Dictionary.com
in tennis, 1903, from ball (n.1) + boy.
ball-club (n.) Look up ball-club at Dictionary.com
also ballclub, "association of players of a ball game," 1845, from ball (n.1) + club (n.) in the "social organization" sense.
ball-cock (n.) Look up ball-cock at Dictionary.com
"small hollow sphere on the end of a lever which turns the stop-cock of a water-pipe," 1790, from ball (n.1) + cock (n.2).
ballad (n.) Look up ballad at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from Old French ballade "dancing song" (13c.), from Old Provençal ballada "(poem for a) dance," from balar "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance" (see ball (n.2)). Originally a song intended to accompany a dance; later "a short narrative poem suitable for singing" (17c.).
ballade (n.) Look up ballade at Dictionary.com
late 14c., an earlier borrowing of ballad (q.v.) with a specific metrical sense. Technically, a poem consisting of one or more triplets of seven- (later eight-) lined stanzas, each ending with the same line as the refrain, usually with an envoy. Popularized 19c. as a type of musical composition by Frédéric Chopin. Ballade royal, in which each line consists of ten syllables, is recorded from late 15c.
balladry (n.) Look up balladry at Dictionary.com
"poetry in ballads," 1590s, from ballad + -ry.
Ballard Look up Ballard at Dictionary.com
surname, attested from late 12c., probably meaning "bald head;" see Wyclif's "Stye up, ballard," where Coverdale translates "Come vp here thou balde heade" [2 Kings ii:23-24].
ballast (n.) Look up ballast at Dictionary.com
"heavy material used to steady a ship," 1520s, from Middle English bar "bare" (see bare (adj.); in this case "mere") + last "a load, burden," from Proto-Germanic *hlasta-, from PIE root *klā- "to spread out flat" (see lade). Or borrowed from identical terms in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian (compare Old Danish barlast, 14c.). "Mere" because not carried for commercial purposes. Dutch balg-last "ballast," literally "belly-load," is a folk-etymology corruption.
ballerina (n.) Look up ballerina at Dictionary.com
"female ballet dancer," 1792, from Italian ballerina, literally "dancing girl," fem. of ballerino "dancer," from ballo "a dance" (see ball (n.2)). The Italian plural form ballerine formerly sometimes was used in English.
ballet (n.) Look up ballet at Dictionary.com
"theatrical, costumed dance and pantomime performance telling a story and representing characters and passions by gestures and groupings," 1660s, from French ballette from Italian balletto, diminutive of ballo "a dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance," from Greek ballizein "to dance, jump about" (see ballistics). Balletomane attested by 1930.
ballgame (n.) Look up ballgame at Dictionary.com
also ball-game, 1848, from ball (n.1) + game (n.).
ballista (n.) Look up ballista at Dictionary.com
ancient war engine used for throwing missiles, late 14c., from Latin ballista, literally "a throwing machine," from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).
ballistic (adj.) Look up ballistic at Dictionary.com
1775, "pertaining to construction and use of thrown objects," ultimately from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Of rockets or missiles (ones that are guided while under propulsion, but fall freely), from 1949. Ballistic missile first attested 1954; they attain extreme heights, hence figurative expression go ballistic (1981) "become irrationally angry."
ballistics (n.) Look up ballistics at Dictionary.com
"art of throwing large missiles; science of the motion of projectiles," 1753, with -ics + Latin ballista "ancient military machine for hurling stones," from Greek ballistes, from ballein "to throw, to throw so as to hit," also in a looser sense, "to put, place, lay;" from PIE root *gwele- (1) "to throw, reach," in extended senses "to pierce" (source also of Sanskrit apa-gurya "swinging," balbaliti "whirls, twirls;" Greek bole "a throw, beam, ray," belemnon "dart, javelin," belone "needle"). Here, too, probably belongs Greek ballizein "to dance," literally "to throw one's body," ancient Greek dancing being highly athletic.
ballocks (n.) Look up ballocks at Dictionary.com
"testicles," from Old English beallucas, plural diminutive of balle (see ball (n.1)).
ballon (n.) Look up ballon at Dictionary.com
"smoothness in dancing, lightness of step," 1830, from French ballon, literally "balloon" (see balloon (n.)).
balloon (n.) Look up balloon at Dictionary.com
1570s, "a game played with a large inflated leather ball tossed, batted, or kicked back and forth," also the ball itself (1590s), from Italian pallone "large ball," from palla "ball," from a Germanic source akin to Langobardic palla (from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell;" see bole) + -one, suffix indicating great size. Perhaps also borrowed in part from French ballon (16c.), altered (after balle) from Italian pallone. Also see -oon.

Meaning "bag or hollow vessel filled with heated air or (later) hydrogen or helium so as to rise and float in the atmosphere" is 1784, after the Montgolfier brothers' flights. As a toy air- or gas-filled inflatable bag, from 1858; as "outline containing words in a comic engraving" it dates from 1844. Balloon-frame (n.) "structure of light timber fitted together to form the skeleton of a building" is from 1853.
balloon (v.) Look up balloon at Dictionary.com
1792, "to go up in a balloon;" 1841, "to swell, puff up;" from balloon (n.). Related: Ballooned; ballooning.
ballooning (n.) Look up ballooning at Dictionary.com
"art or process of ascending in and managing a balloon," 1784, verbal noun from balloon (v.).
balloonist (n.) Look up balloonist at Dictionary.com
"one who ascends in a balloon," 1784, from balloon (n.) + -ist. In the heyday of ballooning mania, balloonacy (1862) and balloonatic (1865) also were used.
ballot (v.) Look up ballot at Dictionary.com
1540s, from ballot (n.). Related: Balloted; balloting.
ballot (n.) Look up ballot at Dictionary.com
1540s, "small ball used in voting," also "secret vote taken by ballots," from Italian pallotte, diminutive of palla "ball," for small balls used as counters in secret voting, from a Germanic source, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole). Earliest references are to Venice. By 1776 extended to tickets or sheets of paper used in secret voting. Ballot box attested from 1670s; metonymically from 1834 as "system or practice of voting by ballot."
ballpark (n.) Look up ballpark at Dictionary.com
"baseball stadium," 1899, from (base)ball + park (n.). Figurative sense of "acceptable range of approximation" first recorded 1954, originally in the jargon of atomic weapons scientists, perhaps originally referring to area within which a missile was expected to return to earth; the reference is to broad but reasonably predictable dimensions.
The result, according to the author's estimate, is a stockpile equivalent to one billion tons of TNT. Assuming this estimate is "in the ball park," clearly there is valid reason for urging candor on the part of our government. [Ralph E. Lapp, "Atomic Candor," in "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," October 1954]
ballplayer (n.) Look up ballplayer at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from ball (n.1) + player.
ballroom (n.) Look up ballroom at Dictionary.com
1736, from ball (n.2) + room (n.). Ballroom dancing is attested by 1872.
balls (n.) Look up balls at Dictionary.com
"testicles," early 14c., from plural of ball (n.1). See also ballocks. Meaning "courage, nerve" is from 1928. Balls to the wall, however, probably is from World War II Air Forces slang, from the ball that topped the aircraft throttle, thrust to the bulkhead of the cockpit to attain full speed.

Ball-busting "difficult" is recorded by 1944; ball-breaker "difficult job or problem" is by 1954. Ball-buster, disparaging for "dominant female, woman who destroys men's self-confidence" is from 1954; ball-breaker in this sense is by 1975.
ballsy (adj.) Look up ballsy at Dictionary.com
"courageous, masculine," 1959, first attested in Norman Mailer (writing of Truman Capote); see balls + -y (2).
bally (adj.) Look up bally at Dictionary.com
1885, British English, slang euphemism for bloody.
ballyhoo (n.) Look up ballyhoo at Dictionary.com
"publicity, hype," 1908, from circus slang, "a short sample of a sideshow" (1901), which is of unknown origin. There is a village of Ballyhooly in County Cork, Ireland. In nautical lingo, ballahou or ballahoo (1867, perhaps 1836) meant "an ungainly vessel," from Spanish balahu "schooner."
balm (n.) Look up balm at Dictionary.com
early 13c., basme, aromatic substance made from resins and oils, from Old French basme (Modern French baume), from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon "balsam," from Hebrew (Semitic) basam "spice," related to Aramaic busma, Arabic basham "balsam, spice, perfume."

Spelling refashioned 15c.-16c. on Latin model. Sense of "healing or soothing influence" (1540s) is from aromatic preparations from balsam (see balsam). Biblical Balm of Gilead, however, began with Coverdale; the Hebrew word there is tsori, which was rendered in Septuagint and Vulgate as "resin" (Greek rhetine, Latin resina).
balmy (adj.) Look up balmy at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, "delicately fragrant," from balm + -y (2). Figurative use for "soothing" dates from c. 1600; of breezes, air, etc. "mild, fragrant" (combining both earlier senses) it is first attested 1704. Meaning "weak-minded, idiotic," 1851, is from London slang.
balneal (adj.) Look up balneal at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to baths," from Latin balneum "bath," from Greek balaneion "warm bath, bathing room," which is of unknown origin.
baloney (n.) Look up baloney at Dictionary.com
1894, variant of bologna sausage (q.v.). As slang for "nonsense," 1922, American English (popularized 1930s by N.Y. Gov. Alfred E. Smith; in this sense sometimes said to have been one of the coinages of legendary "Variety" staffer Jack Conway), from earlier sense of "idiot" (by 1915), perhaps influenced by blarney, but usually regarded as being from the sausage, as a type traditionally made from odds and ends. It also was ring slang early 20c. for an inferior fighter.
The aristocratic Kid's first brawl for sugar was had in Sandusky, Odryo, with a boloney entitled Young Du Fresne. He gave the green and nervous Kid a proper pastin' for six rounds and the disgusted Dummy sold me his find for a hundred bucks, leavin' the clubhouse just in time to miss seein' the boy get stung, get mad, and win by a knockout. [H.C. Witwer, "The Leather Pushers," "Colliers," Oct. 16, 1920]
balsa (n.) Look up balsa at Dictionary.com
South American tree, 1866, apparently from Spanish balsa "float," originally the name of rafts used on the Pacific coast of Latin America (1777). The wood is very light.
balsam (n.) Look up balsam at Dictionary.com
1570s, "aromatic resin used for healing wounds and soothing pains," from Latin balsamum "gum of the balsam tree" (see balm). There is an isolated Old English reference from c. 1000, and Middle English used basme, baume, from the French form of the word. As a type of flowering plant of the Impatiens family, it is attested from 1741.
balsamic (adj.) Look up balsamic at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from balsam + -ic.
Balt (n.) Look up Balt at Dictionary.com
1878, from Late Latin Balthae (see Baltic).