Etymology
Advertisement
cricket (n.1)

saltatorial orthopterous insect, early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French criquet "a cricket" (12c.), from criquer "to creak, rattle, crackle," of echoic origin, with a diminutive suffix; The Middle English Compendium says the French word is from Germanic (compare Dutch krekel, German Kreckel). The earliest uses in English are in reference to the fabulous fire-dwelling salamander (perhaps from the notion of hearth crickets); in reference to the insect, by c. 1500.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
cricket (n.2)

open-air game played by two sides of 11 with bats, balls, and wickets, 1590s, apparently from Old French criquet "goal post, stick," perhaps from Middle Dutch/Middle Flemish cricke "stick, staff," which is perhaps from the same root as crutch. Sense of "fair play" is first recorded 1851, on the notion of "cricket as it should be played."

Related entries & more 
ball (n.1)

"round object, compact spherical body," also "a ball used in a game," c. 1200, probably from an unrecorded Old English *beal, *beall (evidenced by the diminutive bealluc "testicle"), or from cognate Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (source also of Dutch bal, Flemish bal, Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."

The meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. (compare ballocks). Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. The meaning "rounded missile used in warfare" is from late 14c.

The meaning "a game played with a ball" is from mid-14c. The baseball sense of "pitch that does not cross the plate within the strike zone" is by 1889, probably short for high ball, low ball, etc.

Ball-point pen is by 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is attested from c. 1900. Many phrases are from sports: To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c. 1400. To be on the ball is from 1912; to keep (one's) eye on the ball in the figurative sense is by 1907, probably ultimately on golf, where it was oft-repeated advice. Figurative use of ball in (someone's) court is by 1956, from tennis.

The head must necessarily be steady, for it is most important that you should keep your eye fixedly on the ball from the moment that the club-head is lifted from the ground until the ball is actually struck. "Keep your eye on the ball," should be your companion text to "Slow back." [Horace G. Hutchinson, "Hints on the Game of Golf," 1886]
Once a meeting is over, someone will be expected to do something. Make sure it is someone else. This is known as keeping the ball in their court. [Shepherd Mead, "How to Get Rich in TV Without Really Trying," 1956]
Related entries & more 
ball (n.2)

"dancing party, social assembly for dancing," 1630s, from French, from Old French baller "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance," from Greek ballizein "to dance, jump about," literally "to throw one's body" (ancient Greek dancing being highly athletic), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach." The extended meaning "very enjoyable time" is American English slang from 1945, perhaps 1930s in African-American vernacular.

Related entries & more 
ball (v.)

1650s, "make into a ball," from ball (n.1). Intransitive sense of "become like a ball, form a compact cluster" is from 1713; that of "to copulate" is first recorded 1940s in jazz slang, either from the noun sense of "testicle" or "enjoyable time" (from ball (n.2)). Related: Balled; balling.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
ball-boy (n.)

"boy who retrieves balls that go out of play during a game or match," 1896, in tennis, from ball (n.1) + boy. By 1955 in baseball. Ball-girl in tennis is by 1953.

Related entries & more 
Minie ball (n.)

kind of conical rifle bullet with a hollow base, 1853, named for its inventor, French army officer Claude-Étienne Minié (1814-1879), who designed it 1847-8.

Related entries & more 
stool-ball (n.)

outdoor game similar to cricket, in 16c. and 17c. generally played by women alone, late 15c., from stool (n.) + ball (n.1). "The 'stool' was the wicket ... perhaps it was originally an ordinary stool" [OED].

Related entries & more 
ball and chain (n.)

a type of prisoner's restraint, 1818; used figuratively by 1883 of foolish, wasteful habits; as "one's wife," 1920.

Related entries & more 
ball-cock (n.)

"small hollow sphere on the end of a lever which turns the stop-cock of a water-pipe," 1790, from ball (n.1) + cock (n.2).

Related entries & more