I was reading about advertiser David Ogilvy, and at some point he gives the following advice:

Don't bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.

What is he referring to? I looked up the word bunt, but all I could find is related to a baseball technique.

  • 12
    It is the baseball technique. Bunting is the opposite of knocking it out of the park. It is 100% a baseball metaphor.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 18, 2016 at 17:42
  • It's probably worth noting the verb punt, from American Football, since the two terms are easily confused and have a little bit in common in terms of metaphoric use. The football is punted by "drop kicking" it from behind the line of scrimmage, effectively handing the ball over to the other team, but placing it (hopefully) some distance downfield (away from the opponent's goal). This is done primarily when possession of the ball is apt to be lost anyway due to the failure to progress towards the goal.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 19, 2016 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


A bunt in baseball is a gentle tap of the ball that causes the opposing team to scramble from their usual positions (catcher and pitcher in particular). Its goal is to get the hitter to a single base or move other runners to the next base.

It is in stark contrast to a big swing, an effort to hit the ball out of the park (home run).

By analogy, a bunt in the rest of life is a meager small effort rather than a strong bold move.

(No disrespect to the bunt, which often has tactical and strategic importance.)

  • 2
    Another common baseball term that is often used in other contexts is "small ball," which refers to a strategy of moving runners from base to base with sacrifices, walks, stolen bases, bunts, etc. In a business context, for example, one might say that new startups are best advised to play small ball in their efforts to create market share. This is good advice for those who lack the resources or whose situation otherwise mitigates against their "swing for the fences."
    – user66965
    Apr 18, 2016 at 18:13
  • 2
    I like your phrase, "tactical and strategic importance". A team which bunts well never fails.
    – user140086
    Apr 18, 2016 at 19:51

The term "bunt ball" is also used in cricket, but the meaning is different and Ogilvie's quote makes less sense with the cricketing meaning.

It means the batsman hits the ball at the ground rather than into the air, and therefore he can't be out "caught". The force of the hit is irrelevant. The term is usually used when the ball is hit hard into the ground (possibly the result of a mis-hit), bounces high, and is caught by a fielder who didn't realize the ball had hit the ground and bounced, and appeals (unsuccessfully) for the batsman to be out "caught". A deliberate and well-aimed bunt ball in cricket may go over the boundary for 4 runs before a fielder can reach it.

The cricket term for a "gentle tap," played to "steal" a run while the fielding side is running towards the wicket to retrieve the ball, is "nudging the ball" or "playing the ball with soft hands" (i.e. holding the bat relatively loosely so the ball drops to the ground rather than rebounding from it.

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    That's a bump ball (you'll need to scroll down to "bu" words in the link) -- but one easily misheard has "bunt" (and so it might be that a few people have repeated the mishearing). You'll note that "bump ball" is there in the list with your stated meaning, but "bunt ball" is absent.
    – Glen_b
    Apr 19, 2016 at 1:14
  • This is completely wrong. A ball hit into the ground is a "bump ball", as @Glen_b says, and to one "plays with soft hands" to avoid being caught out, not to try to steal runs. The term "bunt ball" does not exist in cricket. Apr 19, 2016 at 5:29
  • @David ... well, I don't disagree with alephzero on the soft hands thing; when the infield is not close, you can play with soft hands to try to take a quick single.
    – Glen_b
    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:01

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