on the ball

on the ball


  • alert to new trends, ideas, and methods
  • knowledgeable and competent
  • alert, in command of senses, attentive
  • understands the situation well
  • quick to understand and react to a situation

Example Sentences

  1. The mother is glad to know that her son is always on the ball to learn new things in class.
  2. I’ve been working for the last three days in a row, and now I am dog tired, so not really on the ball today.
  3. He was right on the ball regarding his assessment of the situation.
  4. I couldn’t sleep well last night, so am not on the ball today.
  5. When his opponent tried to sneak in a pass, the defender was right on the ball and stopped it well.
  6. This mess wouldn’t have happened had you been on the ball.
  7. “Are you alright? You don’t seem on the ball today.”
  8. This article about the current problems of the nation is right on the ball.
  9. He has been sick all week and wasn’t on the ball when I met him.
  10. He has done a great job. He was really on the ball.


This phrase originated in sports, specifically in ball games where the players were asked to keep their “eyes on the ball.” The current usage of the expression began in the 1900s and it is a shorter version of the original term, ‘keep your eye on the ball.’ This phrase is first seen in sports, such as baseball, cricket, and golf. The oldest citation in prints dates back to 1864.

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Idiom of the Day

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on


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