Entries linking to cornball
"grain," Old English corn "single seed of a cereal plant; seeds of cereal plants generally; plants which produce corn when growing in the field," from Proto-Germanic *kurnam "small seed" (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon korn "grain," Middle Dutch coren, German Korn, Old Norse korn, Gothic kaurn), from PIE root *gre-no- "grain."
The sense of the Old English word was "grain with the seed still in" (as in barleycorn) rather than a particular plant. Locally understood to denote the leading crop of a district. It has been restricted to the indigenous "maize" in America (c. 1600, originally Indian corn, but the adjective was dropped), usually "wheat" in England, "oats" in Scotland and Ireland, while Korn means "rye" in parts of Germany.
Maize was introduced to China by 1550, it thrived where rice did not grow well and was a significant factor in the 18th century population boom there. Corn-starch is from 1850. Corn-silk is attested from 1852.
"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]
1570s, "full of corn, pertaining to corn," from corn (n.1) + -y (2). Chaucer used it of ale (late 14c.), perhaps to mean "malty." American English slang "old-fashioned, sentimental" is from 1932 (first attested in "Melody Maker"), perhaps originally "something appealing to country folk" (corn-fed in the same sense is attested from 1929). Related: Cornily; corniness.
There's an element of truth in every idea that lasts long enough to be called corny. [songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989), in a 1962 interview]
updated on August 17, 2020