I am seeing an episode of a British sitcom, The Thin Blue Line, where an officer makes a remark

Just once in a while, I'd like to nick someone whose balls have dropped!

What does this sentence mean exactly? I understand that this is an offensive remark, but please excuse me for that.

  • 3
    it's not offensive, it's crude. don't say it!
    – Fattie
    Sep 8, 2014 at 15:21

5 Answers 5


It means someone who has started puberty. In your context, they'd like to arrest someone who isn't a child - they'd like to arrest an adult or teenager.

From RespectYourself.info

People often use the phrase a guy’s balls drop to imply he has started puberty. What this means is that a his scrotum, the wrinkly sack just behind the penis which holds his testicles, starts to hang a bit lower, away from his body. Technically a boy’s testicles should have dropped during infancy, they literally descend into the scrotum; if this doesn’t happen by the time he is five he will have to have an operation. However, the term – balls-dropped has always been misused to mean a lad has started to produce sperm during puberty.

  • 4
    +1 The expression is used in the same way they could have said I'd like to nick someone who has started to shave.
    – oerkelens
    Sep 8, 2014 at 11:08
  • 1
    @Sumit: any reference to genitals can and will be considered rude in most formal environments (a notable exception being a medical setting). I'd say you can get away with this expression in a setting where at least an expression like bullocks! will not be frowned upon.
    – oerkelens
    Sep 8, 2014 at 11:25
  • 3
    'Bullocks!' is not an expression, other than extremely rarely used when wanting to say 'Bollocks!" in polite company :)
    – Marv Mills
    Sep 8, 2014 at 12:08
  • 2
    @Sumit It's not unpopular, but it's definitely not anything you would want to say in any sort of formal/professional environment, as oerkelens has elaborated on. Even informally many regard it as a crude saying.
    – Conor
    Sep 8, 2014 at 13:24
  • 1
    @oerkelens what has castrated male cows have to do with this? you can discuss them anywhere
    – WendyG
    May 16, 2019 at 16:37

I want to add to the current top answer, to contrast it with a different but similar expression "the ball has been dropped". I'm adding this here because someone else might come across your answer when it is this other expression that they are encountering.

This comes from the metaphor of juggling balls. which means something completely different and is not even vulgar as is even part of acceptable corporate office-speak. It means that something that needed constant attention/maintenance was neglected and it is ruined.

The key to distinguishing between the phrases is "ball" versus "ball s". In the plural it almost always means testicles (and is crude) in the singular it refers to this other phrase. A notable exception being "Having multiple balls in the air" it a counterpart to this expression (ie "the ball has been dropped", in this can meaning that there are multiple things and none of them have been yet "dropped") and not testicles.

Once again, this is a SIMILAR expression but DIFFERENT from the one you have asked about.


Similar to ArtB, who mentioned that "the ball was dropped" (or "he dropped the ball") has an altogether different meaning from the expression "his balls dropped", I wanted to chime in with yet another expression, and that is the expression "the ball drop". Again, I'm only adding this in case Google searches have cause for confusion on the semantics. "The ball drop" is actually a tradition that is celebrated every New Year's Eve that occurs at 11:59pm in New York Times Square as an internationally televised annual event, where during the final seconds of the year a large ball erected on a tower is pulled down over the course of about 10 seconds. When it reaches the tower base, the time is 12:00am of the next year, which is when the fireworks go off, confetti is thrown, the music plays, and people kiss. And it's about to happen again in about a month as of this post. :) The annual "Ball Drop"

  • But we're talking balls here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 30, 2015 at 11:39

To be quite frank although many of you are correct I just don't want people getting confused with the other things and in some cases nonsense people have written. In simple terms it is when a boy starts to produce sperm during puberty. Another informal version is a boy has "cummed" they are both vulgar and crude yet the second more so. It is often used as a joke in informal settings

  • 3
    If a boy has cum[med] he has had an orgasm; it is not the same thing at all as his balls dropping.
    – choster
    Apr 4, 2018 at 20:34

Balls means "testes" it is everytime like this.... In the englis cinemas you can see they always say about balls. Eg: The one who has balls!!

So balls have dropped means a person who's testes have outgrown as compared to a normal humane. Might be in the crime scene the police officer has gotten a clue that the crime was commited by a human who has outgrown testes..

  • 7
    I am not completely sure what you mean with outgrown... but I do get the feeling that you are missing the point of the expression. There is no link between he has balls and his balls have dropped except they reference the same part(s) of human anatomy. Someone whose balls have dropped would be in a literal sense be considered in that respect a normal male over the age of 5. In a figurative sense, is would still refer to a normal male who has reached some level of adulthood. Similar expressions are "he shaves", "he drives" or "he drinks", as they as well relate to age.
    – oerkelens
    Sep 8, 2014 at 11:29
  • 8
    Your asserted meaning of "So balls have dropped" is completely incorrect I am afraid.
    – Marv Mills
    Sep 8, 2014 at 12:10
  • 3
    When English cinema uses the aphorism "dropping the ball" this has nothing to do with testes.
    – Jodrell
    Sep 8, 2014 at 13:15
  • 2
    Not to be overly rude but anyone with this many typos and grammatical errors in just a few paragraphs really shouldn't be giving answers here, IMHO.
    – krowe
    Sep 8, 2014 at 16:41
  • 1
    @krowe, Okay, you've got me, its not an aphorism. My point stands, not every use of a ball related metaphor, simile or aphorism in English cinema refers to a testicle.
    – Jodrell
    Sep 9, 2014 at 9:02

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