Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you a sports fan?

Do you feel like you hear a lot of sports idioms used in English?

In the Urban Immersion Adventure, we taught about baseball idioms.

They are so helpful and show how much sports are intertwined into the language.

We’re going to show you some common sports idioms, how they are used in conversation, and why this is such a popular theme in everyday conversations.

We have a listener question about this today.

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Hi Lindsay, Michelle and Jessica!

Thanks for bringing us this awesome podcast and terrific app! Me and my boyfriend have lived in the US for 4 years and we still find your podcast super helpful. I really appreciate it!

I have a question for you. I recently watched the first baseball game ever in my life. I really enjoyed it ( GO CUBS!). I just realized “ballpark” has an original meaning of a baseball field. I’ve also heard that “touch base” is a baseball phrase. That’s so interesting!

Are there any others phrases like these that are originally from sports terms? Can you share them with me?

Thanks so much for your awesome podcast! Love you guys!

Shae Chen

All About The Sports

The question is about baseball idioms, but it doesn’t just stop there.

So when you look at the term “ballpark” it’s an approximation–it’s often used with a figure to estimate the actual number.

M: How much will it cost?

L: I don’t know.

M: Well give me a ballpark figure.

L: Ok. Around 500 dollars.

Our listener wants to know more sports phrases and idioms, so today will be a fun episode giving you some!

There are a lot of idioms, terms, and vocabulary words that center around sports.

This may have much to do with the fact that sports are a big part of the culture in the US.

A Big Part of The Culture

Why are sports in so many of our idioms in English?

Sports are so ingrained in our culture and when something is in the culture, it seeps into the language.

It’s important to get these idioms because it shows you follow along with the culture as well. 

Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you can appreciate the use of these idioms.

These are terms that are truly a part of everyday conversations.

These are the things that you can bring up or use in conversation that help you to connect and talk with natives.

When it’s a part of the culture, then it’s something that you may use quite often once you get used to it.

Common Sports Terms

It helps to see what the most common sports terms are, and to see how they are used.

We’re going to look at some common sports terminology, and then look at how they can be used in everyday conversation.

A low blow: This comes from boxing, and it means something REALLY too rude or mean. Maybe you’re arguing with someone and they say something that goes too far. This is a low blow.

M: They were fighting and then she brought up how he failed his LSAT.

L: Ooo low blow.

M: I know.

-Out of left field: This comes from baseball, and it means out of nowhere. You may hear something or learn something that hits you rather unexpectedly. It’s usually a surprise that you were not prepared for.

M: Lindsay- I can’t make lunch today because I already ate.

L: Well that was out of left field. I thought we had plans.

M: Sorry!

Slam dunk: This comes from basketball, and it means that something went really well. You feel that you mastered something or that it went better than expected.

M: I got a 90 percent on my test!

L: Wow, slam dunk!

Have someone in your corner: This comes from boxing, and it means that someone helps you between rounds. It ultimately means that someone is on your side, particularly during a time of need.

M: Lindsay, I’m so lucky to have you in my corner. I couldn’t do this without you.

L: Anytime Michelle

There are SO many sports idioms, and these are just a few.

As you can see, you can keep going with these if you really want to.

This is a great way to become part of the everyday conversation, and to practice using common terms and phrases.

Roleplay To Help

As always, looking at a role play can really help you to see how this works in action.

This role play incorporates several different sports terms and phrases, and it can really help you to see how it sounds in conversation.

In this situation, Lindsay and Michelle are deciding what to do together on a snow day.

L: So what do you want to do?

M: Watch TV.

L: Oh you watch too much TV.

M: No I don’t. 

L: Give me a ballpark figure. HOw much do you watch in a day?

M: Just an hour! 

L: Ok. Well I wish you would want to go out and do something instead of being lazy.

M: That’s a low blow Lindsay. YOu know I’m tired. Fine. Let’s go skiing.

L: That’s out of left field. You hate skiing.

M: But I’ll try it to prove that I’m not lazy. 

L: Ok I’ll be in your corner to help you.

M: Thanks. I’ll be a slam dunk. You’ll see.

As you can see, there are so many different sports terms used in the English vocabulary.

Try using them and see how they help you with everyday conversation and with making important connections.


You can tell a lot about a culture by the language that is used.

Since there are so many sports idioms in American English, you can tell that sports are important in the US.

It’s not to say that sports are the only thing to talk about, but they are a good starting point and middle ground.

Try to use these today because they are great for making connections.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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