Immediately or done in a hurry; without delay.
Example: Owen was in the mood for a cheeseburger, so he hopped into his car and went to the nearest fast food place. He paid for one and then went home. He reached into the bag, unwrapped the burger, and took a bite. Right off the bat, Owen knew something was wrong. It didn’t taste right! Taking a closer look, he saw that the cheese was missing!
Origin Of ‘Right Off The Bat’
The origins of this phrase are likely to be from baseball, where, after a successful hit, the batter will take immediate action and run to first base. The quick response that the batter takes seems to be where the expression gets its figurative meaning of ‘something being done without delay.’
From what I’ve found, this idiom goes back to at least the 1880s. I’m unable to find it in writing before then, but of course, it’s possible older citations exist and I missed them. Anyways, during the 1880s, this expression was used in newspapers both in relation to baseball, but also in the figurative sense of ‘doing something fast.’ An example of the former is found in the Albion New Era newspaper, 1883, where it says:
“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 quote above is talking about baseball. This next quote, however, is an example of the saying being used with its figurative meaning. This example comes five years later in the Biddeford Journal, 1888:
“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.”
- Bill returned home from work. As he entered the door of his home, right off the bat he smelled some delicious stir fry cooking.
Note: Know Your Phrase has the meanings for many common phrases and sayings and even their origin. But for some, their origin is not clear. So in cases like that, what you may see listed instead is a theory as to how a phrase came to be. Or, if there is no theory listed, then there will typically be a quote included on an idiom’s page. These quotes can give an idea on how old a phrase is.
These quotes come from books, newspapers, poems, or plays, and are usually the oldest written citations that are known or that I could find.