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a ballpark figure | a ballpark estimate American English

Meaning: If you give a ballpark figure or a ballpark estimate, you give a number which you think is fairly close to the actual one.

For example:

  • We don't know the exact cost, but a ballpark figure would be around six million dollars.

  • I know you can't tell me exactly when it'll be finished, but can you give me a ballpark estimate?

Origin: From baseball, and probably having a history similar to that of the idiom "in the same ballpark" which means "approximately the same amount".

Variety: This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

She gave us a ballpark figure for the cost because she
  1. didn't know the exact amount
  2. knew how much a ballpark cost
  3. wanted to tell us the exact amount

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