- baseball 1845, Amer.Eng., from BASE (Cf. base) (n.) + BALL (Cf. ball). Earlier references, e.g. in Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey," refer to the game of "rounders," of which baseball is a more elaborate variety. Legendarily invented 1839 by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Base was used for "start or finish line of a race" from 1690s; and the sense of "safe spot" found in modern children's game of tag can be traced to 14c. The sense in baseball is from 1868. Get to first base "make a start" (1938) is a figurative use from the game.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.
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