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a ballpark guess: meaning and explanation

We provide a ballpark figure/estimate when we are making a guess at a number or amount, but think that our guess is close to the correct answer. e.g. My ballpark estimate is that there will be around 1500 attendees at the keynote speech.

One reason for using this idiom is to make it clear that your guess is not intended to be fully accurate, but is probably close. This is a more cautious way of estimating.

This idiom can be used after making a guess or estimate by saying that the accurate number will be somewhere in that ballpark. e.g. Our anticipated sales this Black Friday is $1.5 million, or somewhere in that ballpark.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

$10 , .
We’re costs by $10 per , that’s just .
We’re our manufacturing costs go up by $10 per unit, but that’s just a estimate.

Dictation #2

Accent: Australia

Dictation #3

Accent: Scotland


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • In what situations is it common or necessary to make a “ballpark guess”? Can you provide examples from different areas of life, such as work, finances, or planning?
  • How important is accuracy when making a “ballpark guess”? Can there be situations where being in the right “ballpark” is more crucial than precision?
  • Can you remember a time when you had to give a “ballpark guess” in a professional or everyday context? What was the impact on decision-making or planning?

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