I came across with two idioms associated with immediacy in different context recently:

(1) Anyone who was hoping that the Watch would flop out of the box and fall short of the high standard that Apple boasts for its products is going to be disappointed. - Washington Post. April 4.

(2) Off the bat, $500,000 plus 1,200 people not traveling during our business travel season, spring and summer. In addition we track more than 3,500 negative news stories tied directly to our funny bill. – the comment of Vice president of Indiana Tourism agency on the influence of the controversy on religious freedom law - AP radio news. April 6.

I learned that “out of the box” means “immediately, from very beginning” in our comrades’ answers to my question on the above (1), which I posted EL&U yesterday.

I checked the meaning of “off the bat” with COD (10th Ed.) at hand, which shows “right off the bat” and defines it as “at the very beginning.”

Are “out of the box” and “off the bat” interchangeable as being synonymous, or are they different pieces by nature in terms of meaning and usage?

By the way, how come "off the bat" to mean “at the very beginning”?

  • 1
    I hear (and say) "right off the bat". It implies an eagerness, immediacy, perhaps even mild urgency: "I want to tell you right off the bat: I'm not interested!" It's like *right out of the gate" (from racing.) Out of the box implies readiness. It can also mean innovative, like "thinking out(side) of the box." – anongoodnurse Apr 10 '15 at 10:59
  • @Yoichi Oishi - I suggest you link the previous answer to this one so that the information about out of the box with the usage you are referring to is readily available. – user66974 Apr 10 '15 at 13:00
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    "Right out of the box" means precisely that -- you took it out of the box (literal or figurative) and observed the mentioned behavior. Prior to that you'd essentially never seen this thing, whatever it is. "Right off the bat" has several (related) meanings, but Josh covers it pretty well. – Hot Licks Apr 10 '15 at 22:13
  • I was told that it came from a potters wheel...the bat. what do you think...? – randy kimball Jan 13 '18 at 2:03

Off the bat:

(American & Australian), immediately. (Cambridge Idioms Dictionary)

  • The origins for this phrase are likely to be rooted in the sport of baseball.

  • In baseball, this phrase references the ball coming off the bat after a successful strike, which is then immediately followed by the batter making a quick decision to run towards first base. The immediate response taken by batters after a successful swing would be my guess on how this saying got its figurative meaning of doing things quickly, or without delay.

  • The age of this phrase goes back to at least the 1870-80s. I say this because I can't find it in any newspapers before that time. Anyways, during the 1880s, this expression is used in newspapers both in the context of baseball and in the figurative sense of 'doing things fast' that we know today. 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."
  • That quote is talking about baseball. This next one, however, is an example of the saying being used in a figurative way. The term is used 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."


Both idiomatic expressions convey the idea of something that will take place very soon, but right out of the box is used to suggest something from the very first moment, as soos as you start using it, plus it is mailny used in a tech/software context. Off the bat means straigthaway, with no delay and may be used in more general contexts.

  • Off the bat, I must tell you that...
  • They asked to sign the contract off the bat.

(out of the box could not be used in the above sentences)

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