Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
ball someone or something up
to interfere with someone or something; to mess someone or something up. Who balled this television up? Someone balled up the television.
ball something up
to roll something up into a ball. (Alluding to something, such as rope, being tangled up and so useless.) She balled the clay up and stuck it to the clown's face as a nose. Why are you balling up the paper?
1. Roll something into a ball, as in She loved to knit and was always balling up her yarn. [Early 1800s]
2. Confuse or bungle, as in Jane got all balled up at the beginning of her speech, or Henry really balled up that exam. This term may come from the fact that when a horse is driven over soft or partly thawed snow, the snow becomes packed into icy balls on its hoofs, making it stumble. Another theory is that it alludes to the vulgar term balls for testicles. [First half of 1900s]
1. To roll something into a ball: I balled up the lump of clay. I balled the rest of the yarn up when I finished knitting.
2. To make a mess of something: I think you balled your assignment up. I'm afraid someone will ball up the arrangement.
in. to mess up; to make a mess of things. Take your time at this. Go slow and you won’t ball up.