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The meaning and origin of the expression: Bowl a maiden over

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Bowl a maiden over

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Bowl a maiden over'?

To bowl a maiden over is to sweep a woman off her feet with a romantic gesture.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Bowl a maiden over'?

In cricketing parlance 'bowling' is the delivery of the ball to the batsman. The name was adopted from the earlier game of bowls. Early forms of cricket employed underarm delivery of the ball along the ground, as in bowls. Staying with cricket, an over is six balls and a maiden is an over where the batsmen fails to score, so, a bowler 'bowls a maiden over' when bowling six balls without a run being scored.

Bowl a maiden overTo bowl someone over in a non-cricketing sense means to beguile or overwhelm them. There don't appear to be any references to the use of that expression which pre-date cricket. Bowling a maiden over seems to have started in cricket and then migrated in meaning later.

Co-incidentally, another cricketing term 'hit for six', which is similar in meaning, took a similar path. A bowler is hit for six in cricket when a ball is hit over the boundary without bouncing first, scoring six runs. In the non-cricketing usage which was adopted later to be hit for six is to be overwhelmed and badly affected by an incident or piece of news.

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