the ball rolling

the ball rolling


  • to start a conversation in a social setting
  • to start something
  • to set something in motion which is then difficult to be stopped
  • maintain the activity level to ensure the continuity of a project
  • keep the enthusiasm in a task, activity or relationship

Example Sentences

  1. The ball was rolling when he struck that first conversation with her, she could not refuse his proposal knowing how charming he really was!
  2. The cabinet’s proposal on women’s safety was shot down earlier by the houses of the parliaments but the ball is rolling again after this really unfortunate incident.
  3. The ball was rolling for this movie to be an instant success when the director was able to sign such a huge star to play the lead role.
  4. The supporters of the student leader got the ball rolling by shouting slogans in favour of his candidature.


The ball rolling is the American version of the Brit phrase “to keep the ball up” which meant to maintain the ball in the air or the impression of continuing an act. Bentham used this phrase in his letter to George Wilson in the year 1781. In the American presidential election of the year 1840, the phrase in discussion came into existence. General William Harrison used a tin and leather ball which was ten feet in diameter as his victory ball. This was pushed by his supporters from one town to another, as in, to keep the ball rolling.


to keep the ball up

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pour oil on troubled waters

Meaning: try to calm, soothe or placate a problematic situation

Example: She's such a calm person; last week, the whole office was in uproar until she stepped in and poured oil on troubled waters. Read on


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