Baseball Idioms

Baseball represents a major part of American language and culture. Whether you enjoy the sport or not, it’s good to know relevant terminology in English.

Below are a few expressions you might hear at work or in everyday conversations that originated in the great sport of baseball. If you’re not familiar with basic baseball vocabulary, there is a matching exercise at the bottom of this post to help you better understand the baseball idioms I’ve included.


  • CURVEBALL: A pitch that unexpectedly curves from its straight path towards home plate, making it more difficult to hit.

The pitch

In English, when you figuratively throw somebody a curveball, you surprise them or do something that they don’t expect. For example, “Professor Noteware really threw us a curveball with that pop quiz on the first day of class.”

  • TO STRIKE OUT: When a batter fails to hit three pitches that were in the strike zone, he or she is out and must leave the batter’s box.


When referred to metaphorically, “to strike out” means to fail. The quote in the picture above not only refers to baseball, but also to life in general. In other words, don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying.

“We struck out this time, but if we improve the design a bit, I’m sure we’ll impress our boss at the next meeting.”

  • RIGHT OFF THE BAT: The instant the bat hits the ball


Colloquially, “right off the bat” means immediately. For example, “The marketing team wasted no time and started developing a new strategy right off the bat.”

  • TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE: When the batter walks up to home plate and prepares to bat


Outside of sports, “to step up to the plate” means to take on a challenge. When you step up to the plate, you rise up to the occasion and perform the best you can for your team or organization.

“Our company’s new hire really stepped up to the plate today. She prepared an outstanding presentation and convinced the skeptical clients to invest in our product.”


Matching Exercise for Baseball Vocabulary:

baseball vocabulary

Pitcher, Ball, Mitt, Bat, Home Plate, Scoreboard, Team, Diamond, Runner, Batter


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