Ball or Bawl?

by Craig Shrives
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 or bawl?

Ball and Bawl

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

Click on the Two Correct Sentences
(Interactive Game)

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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 as 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.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words