Ball And Chain: Definition and Examples of the Popular Phrase “Ball And Chain”

What does “Ball And Chain” mean? This is a commonly used term in the English language and will be heard very often in informal conversation and within written text. What is the meaning behind this phrase and why do we use it?

Ball And Chain

Ball And Chain Meaning

The phrase “ball and chain” refers to something that is holding a person back in their life. The idea that something is tethering them to the spot and stopping them from fully living their life the way that they please.

Origin of this idiom

This saying comes from the literal ball and chain which used to be used to chain up prisoners. A heavy metal ball would be chained to the prisoners ankle, stopping them from being able to move very easily, if at all. The phrase can be dated back as far as the early 1800s when it was recorded for the idiomatic use we see today.

“Ball And Chain” Examples

The term “ball and chain” is most commonly used within a marital relationship, and usually towards the wife. A man might refer to his significant other as his “ball and chain” joking that being married is not that dissimilar to serving a prison sentence and being unable to live freely.

Example Sentences

  • The responsibility was a ball and chain around my ankle.
  • New technologies can turn from status symbol to ball and chain overnight.
  • This belief was like a ball and chain for the allied war effort.
  • The prisoner is fettered with a ball and chain attached to one ankle.
  • The lower-tech side of the business was seen as a ball and chain.
  • Free-floating ball and chain assembly designed to stop damage by livestock.

Conversation Examples

You will likely hear this term being used in conversation in an informal, joking manner. You might hear a conversation such as this one;

Conversation 1:

  • Person 1: Is Graham coming to the party tonight?
  • Person 2: No, his old ball and chain is making him stay at home.

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: Do you want to come and watch the game with me?
  • Person 2: I’d love to but my wife wants me at home.
  • Person 1: You’re not going to let that ball and chain tell you what to do are you?

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other words which can be used to express similar meaning to the useful idiom “ball and chain”. Some of these could be as follow.

  • Burden
  • Restriction
  • Hindrance

Definition of “Ball And Chain” | Picture

Ball And Chain Pin

Last Updated on March 23, 2020

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