If you do something right off the bat, you do it immediately, without delay.
The Origin Of ‘Right Off The Bat’
This common phrase likely comes from baseball. How so? When a batter swings at a baseball and hits it, the ball comes ‘right off the bat’ and the batter takes immediate action afterwards by running to first base. This quick response taken by the batter seems to be where the expression originated and got its meaning of ‘doing something right away, without delay.’
As for how old this idiom is, it goes back to at least the 1880s. I’m unable to find it print from before then, so maybe it originated around that time. Anyways, during the 1880s, this expression appears in newspapers and it is used in relation to baseball, but also outside of that context. For example, in the Albion New Era newspaper, 1883, it reads:
“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 example is the saying used outside the context of baseball. 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 walked through the door, right off the bat he smelled some delicious stir fry cooking in the kitchen.