The sport of Bowling has it's own unique language and slang.


This is the finger movement given to a bowling ball as the ball is released.
This also known as the lane. The surface that is made up of wood or synthetic boards.
All the Way
Completing a game of bowling with all strikes.
Just as in any other sport, this is a member of the team that plays last.
This is the direction the ball takes as it enters the 1-3 pocket (right handed) or 1-2 pocket (left handed).
This is the area before the foul line
In the middle of the alley are painted arrows used for aiming.


Baby split
The resulting 2-7 or 3-10 pin formation after the first ball of the frame is rolled.
Baby the ball
The act of rolling the ball without any confidence or power.
Baby split with company
Also known as the 2-7-8 or 3-9-10 split .
A ball that rolls or breaks to the right for right handed bowlers and left for left handed bowlers.
This is the direction the ball takes as it enters the 1-3 pocket (right handed) or 1-2 pocket (left handed).
Ball track
The area of the lane where most bowling balls are rolled down.
When one pin is hidden behind another pin.
This is the single lane of a bowling alley.
The 7-10 split. Also can be called goalposts.
Beer frame
When playing as a team, the fifth frame is considered the beer frame. The individual who doesn’t score a strike during this frame must treat the other team members.
Belly the ball
A wide hooking ball starting from an inside starting angle.
Bench jockeying
Most commonly known as trash talking.
A pin that is hidden behind another pin. Synonymous with barmaid.
Big ears
4-6-7-10 pin leave after rolling the first ball of the frame.
Big fill
Getting nine or ten pins on a spare or on a double strike.
Big four
4-6-7-10 split. Synonymous with big ears.
The condition of the lane when maintenance is performed in which the oil or other finish is used to create a track.
When a spare is missed.
When the first ball is rolled on a frame and all the pins go down except one.
Bowling lanes are made up of strips of wood or synthetic wood called boards. Usually, they are called out according to number of boards away from the left side or right side. For example, the 5th board called from the left could be the 25th board from the right
A lucky shot.
Break of the boards
The space where the boards of the alley meet together.
The distance from fingerhole to fingerhole.
Shooting a strike from the opposite side pocket. Right-handed bowlers would strike from the left side of the headpin and left-handed bowlers would strike from the right of the headpin.
Broom ball
  • When the bowling ball hits the pocket in such a way that it mimics the sweeping action of a broom.
A 2-4-5-8 spare leave for right-handed bowlers and a 3-5-6-9 spare leave for left-handed bowlers.


The depressed area on the left and right side of the lane. When the ball falls into this area it proceeds the rest of the way down the lane and a zero is marked on the score card.
Bowling lanes that strikes are easily obtained on.
knocking out the front pin of a spare leave but leaving behind the remaining pins that were either behind or to either side.
Interchangeable with cherry.
1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10 spare leave.
The number of pins that are knocked down on the first ball of each frame.
This is the outer most layer of a bowling ball and the part we can actually touch on a bowling ball. Currently, there are 4 different types of coverstocks. They are plastic, urethane, reactive resin, and particle. Urethane bowling balls are considered obsolete as reactive resin and particle bowling balls now dominate the market. Plastic bowling balls are still popular today as a backup ball for making spare shots since they don’t curve much at all. But as technology improves we should see better and more effective types enter the market. Coverstocks are very important because it is what contacts the bowling lanes surface and determines how it will react with the lane conditions such as the oil pattern.
A type of bowling style where the bowler applies a lot of power to the armswing.
Getting a strike on the opposite side of the bowling arm. Interchangeable with brooklyn strike.

A releasing the bowling ball in such a way that the bowl travels in a huge arc.


Dead ball
A ball that is ineffective and usually deflects badly.
When the pins are knocked down and are scattered on the lanes and in the gutter. The pinsetter must remove these pins for the game to continue.
The unintended ball direction as a result of hitting the pins.
The bowling ball losing action or speed at the end of the roll.
Bowling two strikes in a row.
Double pinochle
4-6-7-10 split. Interchangeable with big ears and big four.
Double wood
Any two pin configuration where one pin is directly behind the other.
Dropping the ball at the foul line.
Dutch 200
Achieving a score of 200 by alternating strikes and spares.


Error Missing the pins. Interchangeable with a blow.


Fence posts
7-10 split. Interchangeable with goalposts and bedposts.
Field goal
Bowling the ball between two standing pins. This is common for wide splits.
The pins knocked down after a spare.
Fit splitL The type of split where the pins are close enough together for the ball to pass between the pins and still hit both of them.
Five bagger
Bowling 5 strikes in a row.
Flat ball
Bowling the ball in such a way that there are few revolutions and little action on the ball.
A foul is marked when the foot goes beyond the foul line.
Foul line
The line that seperate the lane from the approach.
Bowling a strike in the ninth frame.
Foundation, early
Bowling a strike in the eighth frame.
In the game of bowling, this is one unit of a total of ten that makes up one game.
Frozen rope
A bowling ball rolled straight into the pocket with excessive speed.
Full hit
The bowling ball hits the pin head on.
Full roller
A ball rolled so that it rolls over its full circumfrerence.


Getting the wood
On an impossible split, such as a 7-10, being able to knock down as many pins as possible.
The 7-10 split; also called bedposts, or fence posts..
Bowling lanes that are low scoring.
The ball track in lane.
The depressed area on the left and right side of the lane.
Gutter ball
A roll of the ball that results in the ball going into the gutter.


Hang a corner pin
Leaving one of the corner pins standing.
Hard way
Reaching a score of 200 by getting all strikes and spares in an alternating pattern. Interchangeable with Dutch 200.
The 1 pin.
A roll of the bowl that hits the headpin dead on.
High board
One or more boards in the lane that expands or contracts due to atmospheric conditions. This results in a bowling ball taking a different track because some boards may be high while others are low.
High hit
A bowling ball hitting a pin near its center.
Holding alley
A lane that resists any hooking action of a bowling ball.
For right handed bowlers, this is the 1-3 pocket; for left handed bowlers, this is the 1-2 pocket.
A bowling ball that breaks to the left for the right handed bowler and breaks right for the left handed bowler.
Hook alley
A lane where the bowling ball hooks very easily.
House ball
Any bowling ball that is provided by the bowling center.


A staring point near the center of the lane as opposed to the outside, near the edge of the lane.


Forcing the bowling ball high into the pocket.
Jersey side
Hitting the left side of the headpin for right handed bowlers, and the right side for left handed bowlers.


The vertical division boards between lanes at the pit end.
Kindling wood
Light pins.
The 5 pin.
Money collected for missed shots. This is common in tournaments


The area where a bowling ball is rolled. Interchangeable with alley.
Late 10
When the 10 pin is hesitant in going down and is the last to go down for a strike.
Leadoff man
This is the first bowler on a team to bowl.
Adding an upward motion with the fingers at the point of release.
The bowling ball doesn’t hit a pin head on but rather too much on the right or the left.
5-7-10 split.
This is the path the bowling ball takes. Also is known as a single game of bowling.
The ball lags and lacks action due to improper lifting or turning action on it.
Action of releasing the ball over the lane rather than rolling it out over the lane.
A bowling ball released in a way that it hooks extra wide and slowly.
Loose hit
A light pocket which gives good pin action off the kickback off of the walls in the pit area.
The opposite of a high hit. A light hit on the headpin.


Another name for the bowling pins .
a strike or a spare.
Match play
A tournament in which bowlers are matched against each other individually.
An error or a blow.
A ball with action that causes the pins to bounce around.
Another name for the 7 pin.
Move in
The adjustment made to nearer the center of the approach.
Move out
The adjustment made to nearer the corner positions on the approach.
Mule ears
7-10 splt.
A baby split: the 3-10 or the 2-7 split.


Nose hit
Hitting the pin full on during the first roll of the ball.
Nothing ball
A roll of the ball that is ineffective.


One in the dark
The pin in the back of 1-5, 2-8, or 3-9 split.
A frame without a strike or a spare.
Out and in
A hook that is rolled wide from the center of the lane towards the gutter and then hooks back to the pocket.
Bowling in lanes near the edge.
In pro bowling, a score of 200 average is considered to be par. So the number of pins above 200 average are pins over.
When a bowling ball has too much spin and not enough lift.


Getting a full count of 10.
Part of the building
The remark given when leaving the 7, 8, or 10 pin after what seems to be a perfect hit.
Knocking down only the front most pin of a spare leave.
Pie alley
Equivalent to a lane that is easy to score on.
Pin action
The action of the pins when a bowling hits them and causes other pins to be knocked down.
Pin deck
The area of the lane where the pins are positioned and placed.
The area at the opposite end of the lane from the approach where the pins and bowling balls end up after a roll.
The angle at which the finger holes in the bowling ball is drilled.
For right handed bowlers, it is the 1-3 pins, for left handed bowlers, it is the 1-2 pins.
Aiming more directly at the pocket, high and tight.
Poison ivy
3-6-10 split.
Pot game
A competition where two or more bowlers post money the highest score wins.
Powder puff
A slow ball that fails to carry the pins.
A bowling ball that hits without any kind of power.


Quick eight
A good pocket hit which leaves the 4-7 for a right handed bowler and 6-10 for a a left handed bowler.


A split that is wide open.
Reading the lanes
Analyzing the lanes in order to determine whether the lane hooks or holds.
The track on which the ball rolls from the pit to the ball rack.
The number of turns or rotations the ball takes after passing the foul line until it hits the pins.
Ringing 10 pin
When the 10 pin is left standing after a powerful roll.
Running lane
A bowling lane that the ball hooks easily on.
The area before the foul line; Interchangeable with approach.


A bowler who intentionally keeps his bowling average low in order to receive a higher handicap.
A strike when the pins appear to fall one by one.
Keeping score in bowling without the benefit of a handicap.
The ball, after it is released from the hand, holds it’s track to the pocket.
Short pin
A pin rolling on the alley bed which just fails to reach and hit a standing pin.
Allowing the arm to move away from its natural and proper position during the free armswing.
When one pin is hidden behind another in a spare leave.
A condition of the lanes that to work against hooking the ball.
Slot alley
Lanes that are favorable for allowing strikes.
Snake eyes
Another name for the 7-10 split.
Soft alley
Another name for bowling lanes that strikes are easily obtained.
A strong hit.
Sour apple
A weak ball, one that leaves the 5-7, 5-10, or 5-7-10 split.
This is the distance between the thumb hole and tje finger holes.
Knocking down all the pins with two rolls in a frame.
Spare leave
When pins are left standing after the first roll in a frame.
A light-hit strike in which the pins seem to take a longer time to fall down.
A strike where the pins go down immediately.
The placed on the lane where the Maple and Pine boards meet.
A spare leave where the headpin is down and the remaining combination of pins have an intermediate pin down immediately ahead of or between them.
The location on the lane the bowler uses to target. Most bowlers use the arrows on the lanes.
Getting a strike that shouldn’t have been a strike. A lucky strike.
Stiff alley
Lanes that keep a bowling ball from hooking properly.
Knocking down all the pins with the first roll.
Strike out
Finishing the game with strikes.
Strike split
On what looks like a good strike, the 8-10 is left standing for right handed bowlers and the 7-9 are left standing for left handed bowlers.
A number of continuous strikes.
A bowling ball that has a good deal of action.
A wide-breaking hook that carries a strike as though the pins were being pushed with a broom.
Swishing 7 pin
7 pin left standing as other pins swish by it.


Two pins, one directly behind the other.
On an apparent perfect hit, a pin is left standing.
Thin hit
A pocket hit when the headpin is barely touched by the bowling ball .
When the 6 pin bounces off the right kickback and knocks down the 10 pin.
Topping the ball
When the finger positions are on top of the ball instead of behind or to the side at release.
The path of the bowling ball that is rolled most often; also the path on the lane where the ball is rolled most often.
Obtaining three strikes in a row .
Tripped 4
The 2 pin knocks down the 4 pin after bouncing off the kickback.
Obtaining three strikes in a row. Interchangeable with triple.
The hand and wrist action toward the pocket area at the point of the ball release.


Pro bowling scoring uses 200 average as par. So the number of pins below the 200 average is considered under.


Drilling an extra tiny hole to relieve any suction in the thumbhole.


Wall shot
A strike that was a result of pins coming off the kickback.
1-3-10 split or the 1-2-4-10 split. Others are 1-3-7 and the 1-3-6-7.
Weak 7 pin
The 7 pin standing after an ineffective hit.
Wire it
Scoring three strikes in the tenth frame.
5-10 split.
Working ball
A ball with action that mixes the pins on an off-pocket hit and has them scrambling with each other for a strike.


This is the symbol for a strike.


Yank the shot
Hanging onto the ball too long and pulling it across the body.


Zero in
Finding a consistent strike link on a lane.
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