knuck·​le·​ball | \ ˈnə-kəl-ˌbȯl How to pronounce knuckleball (audio) \

Definition of knuckleball

: a slow baseball pitch that moves erratically and unpredictably and that is thrown with little spin by gripping the ball with the knuckles or the tips of the fingers pressed against the top

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from knuckleball

knuckleballer \ ˈnə-​kəl-​ˌbȯ-​lər How to pronounce knuckleballer (audio) \ noun

Examples of knuckleball in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Smith and Sakib also studied the aerodynamics of knuckleballs with their apparatus and found that the flow will separate near the back of the ball any time the seam is located there mid-flight. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Physics can explain the fastball’s unexpected twist, new study finds," 23 Nov. 2018 His first strikeout of the inning was on a knuckleball. Bobby Nightengale,, "Tyler Mahle roughed up, Cincinnati Reds crushed in 19-4 loss to Cleveland Indians," 11 July 2018 That blast came off a knuckleball from the Braves' Phil Niekro on the first homestand of the 1970 season. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Look back at Jimmy Wynn's Astros' career on anniversary of his big league debut," 10 July 2018 Boston, left-handed all the way, passed up a scholarship to Oklahoma State to sign with Chicago and reached the majors with the White Sox in 1984, singling off Texas knuckleball-throwing Charlie Hough in his first at-bat on May 1. Mark Schmetzer,, "Interleague play with Reds gives former Woodward star Daryl Boston a chance to come home," 3 July 2018 For Boston, the move recalled the adventures of Doug Mirabelli, who was whisked across the country in May 2006 after a quickie trade with San Diego because the Red Sox needed a catcher for Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball against the Yankees. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Red Sox Fine-Tune Their Roster for a Visit With the Yankees," 29 June 2018 The Orioles couldn’t get anything going against Red Sox knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright, which didn’t make Monday night look a whole lot different from most any other night this season. Peter Schmuck,, "Slumping Orioles try to play small ball, but that doesn't work either," 12 June 2018 Even the most skilled hitters can struggle against the dancing knuckleball. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Can you imagine a 16-year-old playing in the majors? This Rockhurst grad did, for the KC Athletics," 8 June 2018 With the Rumble Ponies starting a knuckleball pitcher, Mickey Jannis, the Yard Goats came out running, and stole six bases. Dom Amore,, "Tim Tebow? Yard Goats Putting On Their Own Show, Beat Binghamton, 7-3," 9 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'knuckleball.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of knuckleball

1907, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about knuckleball

Dictionary Entries near knuckleball






knuckle down


Statistics for knuckleball

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for knuckleball

The first known use of knuckleball was in 1907

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for knuckleball



English Language Learners Definition of knuckleball

baseball : a pitch that is thrown with very little spin by holding the ball with the knuckles or fingertips

More from Merriam-Webster on knuckleball

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with knuckleball Encyclopedia article about knuckleball

Comments on knuckleball

What made you want to look up knuckleball? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!