Get the ball rolling and start the ball rolling

Photo of author


Get the ball rolling and start the ball rolling are two versions of the same idiom. There are two very disparate origin stories for this idiom. We will look at the definition of get the ball rolling and start the ball rolling, where these terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Get the ball rolling and start the ball rolling are idioms that mean to start the action, to make the opening move. The related term keep the ball rolling means to continue the action, to keep the proceedings moving forward. There are two wildly different explanations of the origin of this idiom. The first origin story states that get the ball rolling is a sports term, taken from the game of croquet. Croquet came into existence in Britain in the mid-1850s, though a similar game named pall-mall had existed in France since the mid-1600s. The second origin story gives America credit for bringing the idiom into general use, starting in the 1840s. During the 1840 presidential campaign, William Harrison employed a gimmick known as Victory Balls. These balls were ten feet in diameter, consisting of leather and tin and were pushed from one campaign rally to the next while the crowd chanted, “Keep the ball rolling.”


The board will soon get the ball rolling on the next wave of cash sourcing at Ibrox and it is likely to be the same familiar faces that are footing the bill this time around. (The Glasgow Evening Times)

FIVE Independent candidates started the ball rolling when they officially registered with the Integrity Commission to run in the December 15 General Elections. (The Turks and Caicos Weekly News)

What we have right now and the interest — what the 100th running created — we’ve activated new fans and people are talking about it, and we’ve got to keep the ball rolling.” (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)