Balls are objects typically used in games. They are usually spherical but can be
ovoid. In most games using balls, the play of the game follows the state of the ball as it is hit, kicked or thrown by players. Balls can also be used for simpler activities, such as catch, marblesand juggling. Balls made from hard-wearing metalare used in engineeringapplications to provide frictionless bearings, known as ball bearings.
Although many types of balls are today made from
rubber, this form was unknown outside the Americas until after the voyages of Columbus. The Spanish were the first Europeans to see bouncing rubber balls (albeit solid and not inflated) which were employed most notably in the Mesoamerican ballgame. Balls used in various sports in other parts of the world prior to Columbus were made from other materials such as animal bladders or skins, stuffed with various materials.
The first known use of the word "ball" in English in the sense of a globular body that is played with was in 1205 in "latinx|
Laȝamon's Brut, or Chronicle of Britain" in the phrase, "latinx|Summe heo driuen balles wide ȝeond Þa feldes." The word came from the Middle English"bal" (inflected as "ball-e, -es", in turn from Old Norse"böllr" (pronounced|bɔlːr; compare Old Swedish "baller," and Swedish "boll") from Proto-Germanic"ballu-z," (whence probably Middle High German "bal, ball-es," Middle Dutch "bal"), a cognatewith Old High German"ballo, pallo," Middle High German balle from Proto-Germanic "*ballon" (weak masculine), and Old High German "ballâ, pallâ," Middle High German "balle," Proto-Germanic "*ballôn" (weak feminine). No Old English representative of any of these is known. (The answering forms in Old English would have been "beallu, -a, -e" -- compare "bealluc, ballock".) If "ball-" was native in Germanic, it may have been a cognate with the Latin "foll-is" in sense of a "thing blown up or inflated." In the later Middle English spelling "balle" the word coincided graphically with the French "balle" "ball" and "bale" which has hence been erroneously assumed to be its source. French "balle" (but not "boule") is assumed to be of Germanic origin, itself, however.
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