mid-15c., Scottish gouf, usually taken as an alteration of Middle Dutch colf, colve "stick, club, bat," from Proto-Germanic *kulth- (source also of Old Norse kolfr "clapper of a bell," German Kolben "mace, club, butt-end of a gun"). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games (a later ordinance decrees, "That in na place of the realme thair be vsit fut-ballis, golf, or vther sic unprofitabill sportis" [Acts James IV, 1491, c.53]). Despite what you read on the internet, "golf" is not an acronym (this story seems to date back no earlier than 1997). Golf ball attested from 1540s; the motorized golf-cart from 1951. Golf widow is from 1890.
Oh! who a golfer's bride would be,
Fast mated with a laddie
Who every day goes out to tee
And with him takes the caddie.
["The Golf Widow's Lament," in Golf magazine, Oct. 31, 1890]
"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]
"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.
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.
a type of prisoner's restraint, 1818; used figuratively by 1883 of foolish, wasteful habits; as "one's wife," 1920.