Do you have a case of the bowling ball blues? Are you looking to buy your own bowling ball (and own bowling shoes) and wanting to walk and talk like professional bowlers do?

Are you simply interested in bringing some bowling thunder to your bowling league play? Bowling sayings are a big part of the community of the game. It’s kinda fun to lose yourself in the nuances of bowling, talking in bowling puns, and putting your own spin on bowling spin.

Is it just a lucky strike? Are you ready to turn bowling ball holes into bowling score goals? Let’s leave no pins standing with a deep dive into bowling lingo, bowling sayings, and famous bowling quotes.

From Bowling Balls To Bowling Shoes, Here’s The Ultimate Guide To Bowling Lingo

What are 4 strikes in a row called? What is deadwood? Let’s get you brushed up on the key lexicon of bowling for your next league night or casual bowling game.


Action refers to either placing bets on a game of bowling or the spin and wildness of a bowling shot.


The term “approach” is both a noun and a verb in bowling. It refers to the area between the foul line and seating area where players make their approach and the act of approaching the foul like as well.

Baby Split

Any split that is among the easier ones to pick up. This includes the 3-10 and 2-7 splits.

Bad Rack

When a pin-setter sets pins incorrectly. Pins could be missing, toppled over, or just be out of place and off their spots.

Ball Return

The mechanism where balls are placed until a player’s shot. The ball return is where balls come back after making their trips down the lane.

Ball Track

A ball track is the most heavily used portion of a lane. If the majority of throws are crossing an area of the lane, it’s considered the ball track. It’s often worn down considerably compared to other parts of the lane.

Bed Posts (or Goal Posts)

The hardest split of all to pick up, the dastardly 7-10 split.

Big Four (or Big Ears, Golden Gate)

The 4-6-7-10 split, one of the hardest four-pin splits to pick up in bowling.

Blind Score

Also known simply as a “blind,” it’s a placeholder score used when a league player isn’t present on a given night. It’s usually the player’s average with ten pins deducted as a penalty.


Each modern ten-pin bowling lane has 39 strips of wood or synthetic wood knows as boards. Players often count off these boards and use them as markers for adjusting shots.


A hook-dominant bowler who rarely throws a ball in a straight line.

Break Point

Different on different lanes (and with different bowling balls), a break point is the part of a bowling lane where a ball starts to veer towards the pin pocket.


Hitting the opposite pocket of your dominant hand. A “Brooklyn strike” is a strike picked up by a right-handed bowler in the 1-2 pocket, or a lefty in the 1-3 pocket.


One of several four-pin splits that are shaped like a diamond. This includes the 2-4-5-8 split.


To knock down just one pin of a two-pin spare opportunity and leave the other pin standing.


An 8-10 split. A bit easier than a 7-10, but not by much.

Clean Game

Finishing a bowling game with a spare or a strike in each frame. No open frames are allowed.


The complex coverings that protect the core of a bowling ball. Coverstocks are made of reactive resin, polyurethane, urethane, and other composite materials.


Pins knocked over on a previous shot which should have been cleared off of the lane but weren’t.


Picking up two strikes in a row.


Any bowling lane that has much less oil than an average lane is considered to be dry. Dry lanes are often unpredictable and cause wild hooks that are hard to control.

Entry Angle

The angle at which a bowling ball approaches the pins. Entry angles can change based on the type of ball and the kind of spin you put on it.

Foul Line

The line that separates the approach from the lane. If any part of a bowler’s foot crosses the foul line, points for a shot are negated and a zero is recorded.


Picking up five strikes in a row.


Picking up four strikes in a row.


Adjusting a player’s score by adding to it to level the playing field in a competitive bowling environment.

Head Pin

The front and center pin of a set of bowling pins. Also known as the 1 pin.


Another word for a bowling alley or bowling center.

House Ball

Bowling balls that are provided by a bowling alley for play. A house ball is often not the right bowling ball for big scores, but it’s a good tool to learn the game.


Organized bowling competitions where teams of players compete for everything from bragging rights to cash prizes.

Lily (or Sour Apple)

A 5-7-10 split. Easier to pick up than a 7-10 split because of the added ricochet factor of the 5 pin.


When a ball is thrown down the lane rather than rolled across the foul line. Loft usually occurs when a player holds onto a ball too long or gets their fingers stuck in the ball’s finger holes.

Open Frame

Any frame during a bowling game where less than ten pins are felled and no spare or strike is recorded.

Open Bowl

A time during a bowling alley’s operation hours where all bowling lanes are available for casual players to use. No tournaments or leagues are taking up lane space.

Perfect Game

Picking up 12 consecutive strikes for a perfect score of 300 points. The ultimate goal of any bowler during a game.

Picket Fence

A 1-3-6-10 or 1-2-4-7 split. A picket fence looks pretty much like its namesake.

Pin Deck

The part of a bowling lane where the pins are set.


The area behind the pin deck where pins are gathered to be reset and balls are ushered back towards the ball return.


For left-handed bowlers, the sweet spot for getting strikes between the 1 and 2 pins. For righties, the sweet spot between the 1 and 3 pins.


Resetting all ten pins to ensure that they are set up correctly.


Trying to play badly before a competitive event to pick up a valuable handicap.


Picking up six strikes in a row.


Knocking down all ten pins with two shots during a frame. All spares in frames one through nine are awarded bonus points equal to the pin count of the player’s next shot.


Any two pins or more that remain up after a first shot and have a gap of a pin separating them.


Knocking down all ten pins with your first shot of a frame. All strikes in frames one through nine are awarded bonus points equal to the pin count of the player’s next two shots.

Spot Bowling

Using arrows, dots, or inconsistencies on a bowling lane to aim your shot rather than looking at the pins.

Strike Out

Either picking up three strikes in the tenth frame or going on a run and ending a game with any number of strikes.


Picking up three strikes in a row

Famous Bowling Quotes (And Funny Bowling Quotes) To Recite To Your Friends

“This is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”

— John Goodman, “The Big Lebowski”

“We’re goin’ bowling. If we don’t come back, avenge our deaths.”

— Homer Simpson, “The Simpsons”

“Bowling would be more interesting if it were slightly uphill.”

— Demetri Martin

“Bowling is not a sport because you have to rent the shoes.”

— George Carlin

“I performed in a bowling alley before while people were still bowling. Cut the check, and I will perform anywhere.”

— ­­­­­­Kevin Hart

“If I had been on ‘Bowling for Dollars,’ I’d end up owing them money.”

— Ricki Lake

“Bowling makes me happy like eating infinite bowls of rice!”

— Yôsuke Kuroda

“Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.”  

— Martin Mull

The Dude: “You brought a Pomeranian bowling?
Walter Sobchak: “I did not bring it bowling. I’m not renting it shoes, I’m not buying it a beer, dude.”

— Jeff Bridges, John Goodman ‘The Big Lebowski’

“I have always hated bowling, and I don’t mind admitting it.”

— Hunter S. Thompson

“Bowling, I like bowling. I’ve been getting into this bowling thing. It’s kinda fun.”

— Queen Latifah

“I’m a bowling pin. Even when I fall, I’ll always stand back up.”

— Jay Park

“I bowled for two years in college, because I was drunk and needed shoes.”

— Kathleen Madigan

“One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.”

— Don Carter

“The bowling alley is the poor man’s country club.”

— Sanford Hansell

“In bowling and in life, if a person made the spares, the strikes would take care of themselves.”

— Stephen King

“Every bowling center should have a house pro.”

— Don Johnson

“I saw this college team bowling championship. Each team had their own coach. What kind of strategy advice is a bowling coach giving? ‘You know what? This time Timmy, I want you to knock down all the pins.’ ‘You sure?’ ‘Trust me. Just do it, son!’”

— Jim Gaffigan

Some Bowling Slogans And Sayings Worth Knowing

You know your bowling lingo. You’ve got some famous quotes for your next night of bowling activities. It’s time to top it all off with some advanced sloganeering, bowling style.

  • Bowlers never die. They just end up in the gutter.
  • 300 or bust.
  • Split happens.
  • Gutterball gurus
  • Try it, you’ll strike it.
  • Shut up and bowl.
  • Tenpin alley
  • My drinking team has a bowling problem.
  • Keep calm and bowl on.
  • Lean, mean, bowling machine
  • Strikes ‘R’ Us
  • It’s not how you bowl. It’s how you roll.
  • Eat. Sleep. Bowl.
  • It’s never a good time to clean the gutters.

With this primer of bowling vocabulary on your side, you’ll never feel out of place at the lanes. Feel free to bookmark this and use this to impress your friends or your next bowling date. You don’t have to thank us. We love this stuff.