General English


  • noun an opportunity to bowl or a spell of bowling
    Citation ‘It was Phil Tufnell who took the opportunity to press his claim to a Test place at Sabina with another long and steady bowl’ (Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Daily Telegraph 14 February 1994)
  • noun a single delivery of the ball
    Citation ‘Miss Dean, for example, showed really superior cricket. In batting she exhibited a good defence against the dangerous bowls, and opened her shoulders at and hit freely and cleanly the loose ones’ (Town and country Journal [Sydney] 13 March 1886)
  • verb to propel the ball in the direction of the striker’s wicket by any fair and legal method of delivery (
    See bowling
    Citation ‘When he has bowl’d one Ball, or more, he shall bowl to the number of four before he changes Wickets’ (Laws 1744)
    Citation ‘Warne might turn thirty-six next month and have bowled 45,533 deliveries in international cricket, but his thirst for the game seems unquenchable’ (Haigh 2005)
  • verb to complete an over by bowling the requisite number of balls
    Citation ‘The game then changed dramatically in the 12th over, bowled by Cowans, who worked up a good pace’ (Henry Blofeld, Cricketer February 1983)
  • verb to dismiss a batsman by hitting his wicket with the ball so that one or both of the bails is dislodged
    Citation ‘The only partnership of any substance came from Daryll Cullinan and Hansie Cronje, who added 71 for the fifth wicket before they were bowled by DeFreitas and Lewis for 45 and 36 respectively’ (Mike Selvey, Guardian 26 August 1994)
    Citation ‘At this stage, England’s misses mattered little when their biggest threat, Harmison, returned to bowl Warne and blow away the last four in 14 balls’ (David Frith, Wisden 2006)
  • verb to bowl a ball or balls of a particular kind
    Citation ‘Pat Pocock … won his first England cap at 21, and bowled crisp off-breaks with a confidence that sometimes troubled his captains’ (Frith 1984)
    Citation ‘He now bowls very close to the stumps and aims to pitch the ball on leg stump so that the batsmen have to play’ (Vic Marks on Ashley Giles, Wisden 2005)
    Citation ‘Hoggard’s greatest success of the year came early, when he bowled England to a gloriously improbable victory at Johannesburg by taking the first six wickets’ (David Hopps, Wisden 2006)
  • verb (of a captain) to put a particular player on to bowl
    Citation ‘I had at times bowled Botham for extremely long spells, as I did in this match’ (Brearley 1982)
    Citation ‘Such was the lack of thrust in the West Indian attack that Stollmeyer, now promoted to the captaincy … found it necessary to bowl himself through 71 overs’ (Manley 1988)
  • verb (of a team) to field
    Citation ‘It seemed a strange decision when England, with two off-spinners in the side, were ideally suited to bowling last’ (Henry Blofeld, Cricketer February 1983)
    Citation ‘Ponting had decided to bowl first, did not change his strategy when he received word about McGrath, and walked into his own tornado’ (Haigh 2005)
    See also bowl out


  • A vessel of roughly hemispherical shape, sometimes with a flat base, used in the kitchen to mix, weigh and prepare the mise en place


  • noun a line forming the rounded part of a letter, such as the round part of a ‘b’, ‘p’ or ‘c’


  • noun an exaggerated walk. The walker falls to one side and swings his arms. An emblematic term from youth slang in the UK and USA since the late 1990s.


  • verb to get a batsman out by bowling


  • noun a wide shallow container used for holding something such as food or liquids

Origin & History of “bowl”

Bowl ‘round receptacle’ (OE) and bowl ‘ball used in bowls’ (15th c.) come from different sources. The former (Old English bolle or bolla) comes ultimately from the Germanic base *bul-, *bal-, which was also the source of English ball, balloon, and ballot. The middle Dutch form corresponding to Old English bolle was bolle, which was borrowed into English in the 13th century as boll, initially meaning ‘bubble’ but latterly ‘round seed-head’.

The other bowl was originally simply a synonym for ball, but its modern specialized uses in the game of bowls, and the verbal usage ‘deliver the ball’ in cricket and other games, had already begun their development in the 15th century. The word came via Old French boule from Latin bulla ‘bubble’, which also lies behind English boil, bull (as in ‘papal bull’), bullion, bullet, bulletin, and bully (as in ‘bully beef’), as well, perhaps, as bill.