We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Ballpark Figure?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The expression ballpark figure is an American slang term that means an estimate or guesstimate. If a cost or amount is considered in the ballpark, then it is within the range that the person asking for the estimate expected. If not, then the figure is of course out of the ballpark. A ballpark figure can be asked for as a price estimate or in many other situations.

One example of needing a ballpark figure is in the early stages of planning an event such as a wedding. Information and the estimated cost of each aspect of the ceremony, reception and honeymoon must all be gathered before decisions are made and actual amounts worked out. In order to stay on the budget set for the wedding, the couple will need general figures for everything so that they'll know what will fit in their budget and what won't. In most cases they’ll also need a figure to use for their number of guests if they haven’t received all the invitations back yet.

A ballpark figure is handy whenever the exact amount of something isn't yet known. For example, if a homeowner asks a plumber for an estimate, the plumber looks at the job that needs to be done and gives the owner a general figure of how much the work will cost. The actual amount on the invoice will be calculated to the penny in terms of labor, parts and taxes so it will differ from the original figure. Many such figures don't include tax.

Before agreeing to any type of work based on a ballpark figure, it is a good idea to have signed paperwork stating that your bill is not to exceed a certain amount without your further approval. You can then get actual itemized costs to be sure you're being charged a reasonable amount. Getting other estimates before choosing a company to do any type of work is also a good idea. This way you can get a much better idea of what a reasonable figure would be for what you need done.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By cyprus — On Jun 02, 2010

Yes there is so much debate on how the term "ballpark figure" originated that it's not accurate to pinpoint one example. Interesting info though!

By krisl — On Jun 02, 2010

There is some debate on the origin of this saying. The most obvious explanation of the idiom’s origins references baseball. If the hit is not a homerun, and thus out of the park, the ball can still be played by the team in the field. So, a ballpark figure suggests that the estimated number is close enough to the exact number to be relevant. The phrase is believed to have been first seen in print in a 1967 issue of the Wall Street Journal. It referenced, you guessed it, an estimated figure rather that was reasonably close to exact cost.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.