Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Ball or Bawl?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between ball and bawl?

Ball is a noun that describes a spherical object. It is also a word used to refer to a social gathering or dance.

As a noun, bawl describes a loud yelling noise.
As a verb, bawl is the act of shouting or screaming loudly.

Ball and Bawl

Occasionally, there is confusion over the words ball and bawl.


The word ball is a noun with two meanings. It can describe a spherical shape. A ball can either be solid or hollow. It most typically refers to an object that is kicked, thrown or hit in a game (e.g., football, cricket ball, soccer ball).
It also refers to a formal social gathering where guests can dance.

  • If you think it's hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.
  • My pitching philosophy is simple - keep the ball way from the bat.
  • The women are getting dressed up in their best gowns and going to a royal ball.


The word bawl can be used as a noun or a verb. When used a a noun, bawl is a loud, unrestrained shout. As a verb, it means to cry or scream noisily and unrestrainedly.

  • He showed his lung power with a loud bawl.
  • (Here is an example of bawl being used as a noun.)
  • I'm going through a stage where the dumbest things make me bawl.
  • If you want to cry, bawl. If you need help, raise your hand and jump up and down.
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