Based on example sentences in several online dictionaries, I have the impression that "ballpark" is used in situations where you really don't know and can't know the exact number but want to make an educated guess. I'm not sure if it's accurate to use "ballpark" for a guess about a number we forget.

  • "If I remember it right, it should be around ...." "I can't recall now, but let me see, was it 14.73?"
    – Kris
    Apr 3 '18 at 6:29
  • A ballpark is typically a baseball stadium. Baseball is very much a minority sport in Britain, and the term ballpark number is likely not to be known by many Britons. My British wife is a mathematics teacher and she had never heard the term before when I asked her just now.
    – Shoe
    Apr 3 '18 at 6:44
  • @Shoe - What? :o As a native speaker of BrE I most definitely know what a ballpark figure is. I'm surprised your wife doesn't.
    – AndyT
    Apr 3 '18 at 9:58
  • @AndyT. Yes, it surprised me too as she has been a teacher at a large international school for over 35 years, with numerous AmE mathematics teacher colleagues and countless AmE students. Next time I'm in England I'll ask family and friends if they know what ballpark number means, in order to test out my hypothesis that fewer BrE speakers will know the idiom than AmE speakers.
    – Shoe
    Apr 4 '18 at 10:25

As you say, a "ballpark" number is an educated guess about a number that we never knew, a number that is "somewhere in the ballpark." (It's an American idiom, since a "ballpark" is a place where people play baseball.) To convey your meaning, you could say one of these:

I can't remember the exact number, but a ballpark number is 250.
I can't remember the exact number, but 250 is somewhere in the ballpark.

You would not convey, by referring to a number as a ballpark number, that it was a number that you knew and had forgotten. You would have to state that.


Correct. Example - The world's population is in the ballpark of 8 billion.

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