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


"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."


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.

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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