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Bowling Slang And Slogans

bowlingball.com continues presenting Editorial articles with this month’s feature addressing bowling slang and slogans.

In previous Editorial articles which are now posted in the “BowlVersity” section of this site, I highlighted the careers of bowlers such as Johnny Petraglia, Billy Hardwick and Don Johnson. I drafted an article as a tribute to the great Don Carter. I wrote about Mark Baker because of his extended and successful modern day coaching career. I wrote about PBA Hall of Fame Laneman, Len Nicholson.

Now I wish to take a look at common bowling slang we use almost every time we discuss bowling with our friends. It is a characteristic of many bowlers who take the game seriously to share in lingo about the various aspects of the game.

In fact, if we never use slogans or slang relating to bowling, it might get stale when we discuss the sport. Let’s think about some terms or slogans we often hear about bowling.

In no particular order, here are a few slang or slogan phrases I have heard and used through the years:

“Punched out the game from the fifth” referencing getting strikes in the fifth frame and continued striking the rest of the game.

“Chopped the spare” meaning that we picked off a pin in front of another pin in a row behind the first pin such as the 6 off of the 10 pin, etc.

“Revved-up my ball” meaning that a bowler applied a great deal of revolutions to the ball by virtue of his or her delivery technique.

“I left a ringin’ ten..” meaning that this bowler left the 10 pin on a solid pocket hit.

“The ball picked up early roll” meaning that the ball reacted on the lane surface the instant it came out of the skid phase of ball motion.

“I ripped the rack” referring to a mid-pocket hit where the 5 pin swept fast and hard with the bottom end of the pin toward the 7 or toward the 10 pin describing pin action on a given strike delivery.

I “chicken-winged the shot” meaning the bowler turned the bowling ball too early in relation to the proper moment for delivery, and thereby popped out the bowling elbow with the bowling hand turning over the top of the bowling ball.

We could go on and on with bowling slang and I am sure you can think of terms you have used or heard over the years you spent in the game. This is merely a sampling of slang or phrases we commonly hear during competition.

Bowling, however, is not unique in the use of slang or slogans. Take Baseball, for instance, and think about the many, many slang expressions we use in this sport. A “Four Bagger” for a home run, a “Texas Leaguer” for a pop fly base hit, “he rung him up” referring to the pitcher striking out the batter, and the pitcher was “breaking bats” meaning the pitcher was jamming the hitter and the ball was striking the bat just above the batter’s hands and in some cases, actually fracturing the bat. How about the “clean up hitter” meaning the batter who hits fourth on the lineup card.

In football we hear phrases such as “sacked the quarterback” meaning a defensive player tackled the opposing team’s quarterback during an official play. We hear a phrase like “he juked out the defender” meaning a running back or receiver made a nifty and sudden change of direction when carrying the football as to freeze the defender into missing a tackle. And how about the slang we often hear near the end of a game or the end of the first half of play known as the “Hail Mary pass” referring to a desperation pass by the quarterback into the end zone in hopes of a receiver catching the pass to score a game winning touchdown.

In basketball we hear slang such as “he dunked the ball” meaning the offensive player jumped high enough to swiftly insert the ball directly into the cylinder and score two points. We hear the term used by announcers such as “he is shooting from the paint” meaning the shooter is sending off a shot to the basket while standing in the painted area of the key on the court. The “full court press” is a reference to a defensive play where all five defenders attack the basketball when in-bounding by the offensive team in an attempt to disrupt the play and potentially steal the ball or pass.

In golf there are many frequently used slogans or slang such as an “Eagle”, a “Birdie”, or an "Ace" describing the number of strokes under par on a given hole the given player scored. “Sliced the tee shot” means the golfer hit the ball from the tee box and the ball curved or faded off of the intended line to the right and usually out of the fairway for a right handed player. The dreaded “shank” slogan means that the ball was struck on the hosel of the club head, too near the shaft and squirted off line rapidly at almost a 90 degree line from the intended target path.

As we can easily conclude, therefore, that all sports have their pet slogans or slang to describe the action during play. This phenomenon of using slang as opposed to using correct verbal references to the actual events in the “King’s English” is not only commonplace, but sort of a cult communication between the group of players who regularly play the given sport.

Slang and slogans can be fun to use if communicated in the right way and with the right intent. In bowling, we frequently hear a bowler describing his game result to a fellow bowler by saying something like this: “I struck in the first, ringing 10, double, big tonk in the 5th, solid four, trip four, wall shot, ripped the rack, jammed the first one in the tenth high and tight, then a ripper 7 in the 11th...”


We are all members of the bowling fraternity who use slang or slogan phrases to describe actions or references to the lanes, machinery or equipment. There is no getting around the common use of bowling slang. Almost everyone engages in its use and almost everyone understands the lingo.

Slang and slogans are not only restricted to use in sports, however. We hear slang all the time relating to social life or government life. We have a “Lame Duck” President meaning a President awaiting his term in office coming to an end. We have a “Filibuster” in Congress derived from the Dutch word meaning pirate, and describing a continuing speech on the floor of the House or the Senate without yielding the floor to another colleague. We have “Red States” and “Blue States” referring to Republican or Democratic electorate in given states.

It is easy to understand that slang and slogans have become dominant in our culture for many years and is likely here to stay. Virtually everyone uses slang regularly as a means of communication. Bowling is no different. Long live bowling and the phrases, slogans, and slang we use referring to our beloved game.

Thank you.

Rich Carrubba

bowlingball.com