ball-and-socket joint


ball-and-sock·​et joint ˈbȯl-ən(d)-ˈsä-kət- How to pronounce ball-and-socket joint (audio)
: a joint in which a ball moves within a socket so as to allow rotary motion in every direction within certain limits
: an articulation (such as the hip joint) in which the rounded head of one bone fits into a cuplike cavity of the other and admits movement in any direction

Illustration of ball-and-socket joint

Illustration of <span class=syl>ball<span class=sylbreak>-</span>and<span class=sylbreak>-</span>sock</span><span class=syl>et joint</span>
  • ball-and-socket joint 1

Examples of ball-and-socket joint in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Shepherds are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, painful genetic diseases in which the ball-and-socket joints fit together poorly. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 31 July 2023 The phone/camera mount features a ball-and-socket joint and the kit comes with the addition of a gooseneck mount for the ring light, making lighting and filming even the most intricate tabletop activities a breeze. Good Housekeeping, 8 Feb. 2023 The phone holder can be applied to the windshield or dashboard and features a telescopic arm with a pivoting ball-and-socket joint, allowing for a wide array of customization in terms of viewing angle. Nikolas Greenwald, Good Housekeeping, 10 Jan. 2023 Their wrist is made up of a ball-and-socket joint, much like our shoulders or hips. Discover Magazine, 17 Mar. 2011 At the end of each of the small primate’s hands are six fingers, including a long and adroit middle finger that can swivel in any direction due to its ball-and-socket joint, like a human shoulder, writes Defector’s Sabrina Imbler. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Oct. 2022 The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that is mobile, but also unstable. Jen Murphy, WSJ, 15 Jan. 2022 The columns are substantial but are linked to the roof only with a daringly thin ball-and-socket joint. Anthony Paletta, WSJ, 14 Jan. 2022 The seven vertebrae in her neck—the same number as in a human’s—are connected by ball-and-socket joints like those in our shoulders, so instead of lifting up like a rigid beam, her neck snakes upward in an almost reptilian way. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 13 Mar. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ball-and-socket joint.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1779, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ball-and-socket joint was in 1779

Dictionary Entries Near ball-and-socket joint

Cite this Entry

“Ball-and-socket joint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

ball-and-socket joint

: a joint (as in the hip) in which a rounded part moves within a socket so as to allow movements in many directions

Medical Definition

ball-and-socket joint

: an articulation (as the hip joint) in which the rounded head of one bone fits into a cuplike cavity of the other and admits movement in any direction

called also enarthrosis

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