How do you get a good job without a college degree??

Claim unemployment, ballin off the state bro.

  • 4
    I generally disregard any sentences containing the words bro or ballin.
    – user11550
    May 22, 2012 at 15:41
  • Why is that? ''
    – Theo
    May 22, 2012 at 15:58
  • IMO, both words just sound plain stupid. They probably aren't even words.
    – user11550
    May 22, 2012 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


In this context, ballin used in the slang sense. From UrbanDictionary:

1.) To play basketball. 2.) Living in affluence/wealth.

The writer is using the word in the second sense, to mean living well. "Ballin off smth." refers to the source of the money that allows the speaker to be 'ballin'. In the particular context you've given, the speaker is using the term somewhat sardonically/sarcastically, as clearly no one living of unemployment benefits will be living in great affluence or wealth.

In my understanding, the term follows from the lifestyles of basketball players; to spend extravagantly at nightclubs or buy lavish cars is the epitome of 'ballin'. It reached the popular consciousness via Jim Jones.

NOTE: I'm being a little facetious in giving this such serious treatment. This phrase is about as far from standard English as could be and is totally inappropriate for any serious use if you're not a rapper.

  • I am surprised this answer hasn't drawn comment from the pro-AAVE brigade who regard 'Rapper English' as as valid as the Dickensian kind ;-)
    – immutabl
    Aug 1, 2012 at 20:32

I think "ballin" is from "bailing" - so it's having money handed out to you - as in "banking bail-out".

It's from the usage of scooping water out of a sinking boat.

  • 1
    As unfortunate as it is for standard english, 'ballin' is not 'bail in', but rather just 'ballin', so I'm forced to down vote this as incorrect. May 22, 2012 at 17:52
  • I'll second that. Also c.f 'bailin' which is a truncation of 'bailing out' comes more probably from the legal concept of bail i.e. monies paid as security left with the authorities which then allows those accused of crimes their liberty until their trial.
    – immutabl
    Aug 1, 2012 at 20:35

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