Ball of Wax

What was said? We really need a way to communicate this “ball of wax.”

Did someone really say that? Yes, when discussing how to help a client explain their business services/value!

What does it mean? It basically refers to EVERYTHING. The whole thing!

Origin: The phrase dates back to the 1880s and is likely a form of a different expression: the whole bailiwick – which means the whole territory. The phrase became popular in the 1950s/60s when it made its way into the 9th edition of the Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1953) and when sci-fi a book The Big Ball of Wax by Shepard Mead came out (1954). The book contains a line that says “Well, why don’t we go back to the beginning and roll i tall up, as the fellows say, into one big ball of wax?”

There is another belief that the expression comes from 17th century English law regarding real estate. Parts of an estate would be written down on small pieces of paper, then be rolled into small balls of wax and tossed into a hat. Each beneficiary would pick a ball from the hat, determining his/her share. You only got one pick, therefore what was in your ball was “the whole ball of wax.”

Another expression “it’s the same ball of wax” refers to the fact that no matter what you are looking at or dealing with – no matter how you slice/dice it, it’s the same thing. Used in a sentence: No matter if we break it up into 5 chapters or ten, it’s the same ball of wax.


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Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

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