American Culture Idioms, Expressions, Vocabulary San Francisco

Baseball Idioms for English Learners

July 14, 2017

Baseball is a universal language. Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball.

PETE ROSE, My Prison Without Bars

Baseball is an American pastime (and a spring and summer tradition for many), so it makes sense that Americans use English baseball idioms in their daily speech. Do you know these English baseball idioms?

English Baseball Idioms

English Baseball Idioms

(To hit a) homerun/to hit one out of the park

Definition: To do or perform something extraordinarily well; to produce or earn an exceptional achievement.

Relation to baseball: When a batter (the person who hits the ball) hits a homerun and scores a point for his or her team.

Example: You hit one out of the park with your presentation! Congrats!

Ballpark figure

Definition: A somewhat accurate approximation of a price, a number, or a total.

Relation to baseball: A baseball stadium is an enclosed space: the term “ballpark figure” was used to describe approximately how many people attended a baseball game.

Example: Could you please give me a ballpark figure of the project’s total cost?

English Baseball Idioms

Strike out

Definition: To fail or be unsuccessful.

Relation to baseball: A hitter’s turn is finished (and he or she does not get to move to first base) if they strike out.

Example: He asked for her number, but she said no. We all strike out sometimes!

To throw someone a curve ball

Definition: To unexpectedly present someone with a challenge or disruption.

Relation to baseball: A pitcher (the person who throws the ball) can make the ball spin or curve; this confuses the batter because the ball is difficult to hit.

Example: The professor really threw us a curve ball on our quiz: he asked us what his name was, and half the class couldn’t remember!

English Baseball Idioms

Touch base

Definition: To briefly make (or renew) contact with someone.

Relation to baseball: A player touches first, second, or third base (or home plate) to make contact with the base. Once the person touches a base, he or she is considered safe and cannot be called out during this play on the field.

Example: I need to touch base with my group members and see what I need to do for our presentation.

English Baseball Idioms

To go to bat for someone

Definition: To support someone when the person needs help.

Relation to baseball: Another play can bat (try to hit the ball) for another person.

Example: My boss went to bat for me when the company wanted to lower my job’s hours.

Play hardball

Definition: To act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.

Relation to baseball: Playing hardball is playing aggressively/with a strong desire to win.

Example: We thought it was a friendly company baseball game, but the other team was really playing hardball!

Out of one’s league

Definition: To be in a situation where you are competing against another person or team who is more prepared, more skilled, or has a higher level than yours.

Relation to baseball: Most teams play in a league where other teams have the same abilities. To be out of one’s league is to play against other teams who are much better.

Example: You have to take the prerequisite classes before taking an upper-division history class. If you don’t, you will be out of your league.

English Baseball Idioms

IEC@DVC students from the University of Nagasaki enjoyed their SF Giants and St. Louis Cardinals game! Go Giants!

Would you like to see a professional baseball game while you are studying English in the Bay Area? IEC@DVC often organizes trips to see the San Francisco Giants play! Join us for our next trip and cheer on* the Giants to another World Series win! 

*cheer on = to support

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