Whole New Ball Game, a

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Also: A different ball game

Meaning of Idiom 'A Whole New Ballgame'

A whole ball game is a completely changed situation or set of circumstances. 1,2

Usage

"People don't want discs anymore. Now that streaming is becoming the standard for movies and music, it's a whole new ballgame."

"If you think parenting a toddler is difficult, get ready for the teenage years. That's a whole new ballgame."

Origin

It is usually assumed that this idiom came from baseball. However, the term ball game only referred exclusively to the game of baseball up until the 1940's. 3

By 1913, sports reports began using "a different ballgame" to refer to a dramatic turn of events in a baseball game and this phrase became common by the 1930's. This phrase, and its variation a whole new ballgame do not seem to have passed into figurative use until 1960's, when a ball game could also have referred to football or even basketball.

Sources
1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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