DEFINITION of 'Ballpark Figure'

A ballpark figure is a rough numerical estimate or approximation. Ballpark figures are commonly used by accountants, salespersons and other professionals to estimate current or future results. A stockbroker could use a ballpark figure to estimate how much money a client might have at some point in the future, given a certain rate of growth.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ballpark Figure'

Ballpark figures are used everywhere in the business world. But they should be treated as nothing more than estimates; they are not hard numbers. These figures are frequently blown out of proportion by salespersons and other professionals who must use persuasion to generate income or close deals. Major business and financial decisions should probably not be made based on these numbers; however, they could first serve as estimates to be refined through more thorough analysis.

A popular theory of the term posits that is probably has a history similar to that of the idiom "in the same ballpark" which means "approximately the same amount."

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