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Idiom

Start the Ball Rolling: Origin and Meaning

Meaning
to start an activity; to be the first to start an activity in order to encourage others to do the same.
Origin
Start the ball rolling This expression has its origins in the in sports, and particularly from the game of croquet. Croquet is a typical lawn game dating back to the 19th century that is predominantly played in the UK by the aristocracy in their country retreats. The rules of the game are pretty simple and involve hitting a ball through a number of hoops using a mallet (a type of wooden hammer). However, if you are an experienced croquet player, you soon find out that if you start the game first (hence, start the ball rolling) you might be in with a chance of winning, without the others even having a go.
Examples
(In a meeting) – Manager: There are ten things we need to discuss in today’s meeting, so, who would like to start the ball rolling?

(At a party) – He started the ball rolling by being the first to get up and dance. I’m planning to trek up Snowdonia so I’m starting the ball rolling by joining a gym.