balls up

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ball up

1. To roll or form into a ball. Three-banded armadillos are known for balling up when they are threatened by predators. This material tends to ball up when it gets wet.
2. To roll or form something into a ball. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "ball" and "up." I balled up my clothes and threw them in the hamper. Wet each piece of paper before balling it up until you have 10 to 15 of them.
3. To muddle, confuse, or ruin something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "ball" and "up." Boy, I really balled up the directions—where are we? Here are the items I need from the grocery store—don't ball it up!
4. To cause someone to become confused or flummoxed. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "ball" and "up." Missing the last page of the directions really balled me up—that's why I'm late.
See also: ball, up

balls up

1. noun, rude slang Horribly awry to the point of complete ruin or disaster. Mary's Monday morning routine went balls up when she spilled coffee on herself, missed the train, and arrived to work late.
2. noun, rude slang A blunder that causes disastrous results; a mess-up. Usually hyphenated. The balls-up with the code has put the entire software platform in jeopardy.
See also: ball, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Star performance Christian Williams, who rode a double Quote of the day ``Christian has made some balls-ups and I've made a mess of some things but we have a good talk about it to make sure it doesn't happen again'' - trainer Evan Williams after Cannon Fire's win
But the battlelines were drawn and our feuding backstabbers were off on a classic day of non-stop business balls-ups. Result: another fabulous hour of top-flight TV.
Listening to this tale of woe immediately cheered up Prescott's audience - the BBC's Graham Rock and myself - and we resolved to go over for Triple Dash's Guineas bid in the hope of seeing another event that could join the list of the biggest balls-ups since Mons.
Just like the Third Test, England shot themselves in the foot again at Old Trafford with four big balls-ups:
LISA Riley came back for NEW YOU'VE BEEN FRAMED (ITV1, Sunday) boasting about her new set, which included the appropriately named "ball of balls-ups".