Right Off the Bat – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to describe someone’s quick response or reaction? Maybe you need a way of expressing your instinctual reaction to someone or something? You could say “right off the bat” in either situation. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

If you use the expression “right off the bat,” it means’ immediately, or with no hesitation in reply. If someone were replying right off the bat, it means they are answering instinctively and intuitively, off the top of their head. They have no hesitation in their reply, regardless of the subject matter of the conversation.

It can also refer to a person’s actions being right off the bat. It’s similar to being “off the cuff,” meaning that you act without preparation. You’re working under your current intuition and knowledge, relying on it to guide you in that situation.

Example Usage

“Right off the bat, we knew something was wrong with this guy. His behavior was off, and he just looked suspect, you know?”

“He turned around and gave her a sly look. Right off the bat, she knew she was dealing with a player and that he was up to no good.”

“I just want to say, right of the bat, that I’m glad to be here with you guys, and I appreciate what you’re doing for the charity with this fundraiser.”

“We got to the camp, and right off the bat, a bear charged us, and we had to flee back to the canoes and onto the lake to get away.”

“I knew it was you right off the bat. This has all the trademarks of one of your adventures. Admit to it, or I’ll tell the cops.”

“He responded to her question right off the bat. You could tell it was a prepared statement the way he replied with such confidence.”

Origin

The expression “right off the bat” originates from the late 1800s. The saying would appear in conversation around the 1880s, referring to baseball. The earliest rendition of the expression in print comes from the Albion New Era newspaper, 1883, where it appears as follows.

“A person unused to it would net catch one ‘fly’ out of fifty, and as for stopping and holding a hot liner right off the bat, he might as well attempt to gather in a solid shot fired point-blank from a Parrot gun.”

The first use of the saying without referencing baseball comes in 1888 from the Biddeford Journal 1888, where it appears as follows.

“Let me hear that kid use slang again, and I’ll give it to him right off the bat. I’ll wipe up the floor with him.”

Phrases Similar to Right off the Bat

  • Lickety-split.
  • Right out of the gate.
  • Right away.

Phrases Opposite to Right off the Bat

  • Take your time.
  • Delayed start.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Right off the bat.

Ways People May Say Right off the Bat Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with bats. It means that you have a quick start or a quick reply to something. Using the expression to describe something hitting a bat is incorrect. The “bat,” in this case, is the rebound effect and the speed of the retort or response.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Right off the Bat

You can use the saying, “right off the bat,” when you’re trying to say that events go away to an unexpected start or right on time. You can also use it to express how someone addresses a topic as soon as they have the chance. The phrase suits professional and social use.

You can use it to say how you knew “right off the bat” that the person was suspicious and up to no good. Or you could use it to say that the team performed at their best right from the start. The phrase means that there is no lag in the reply or start.

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