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

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Other Words from knuckleball

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

Examples of knuckleball in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Defying age, of course, is part of the magic of the knuckleball. New York Times, "Saying Goodbye to the Knuckleball, and Its Master," 28 Dec. 2020 But judging the character of a baseball player is like trying to hit a knuckleball., "Three controversial stars approach the Hall of Fame threshold. Is 2021 their year?," 12 Jan. 2020 No pitcher had done more with a knuckleball than Niekro, who pitched 24 years in the majors and won 318 games before being elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997. Globe Staff,, "Baseball’s offseason moves are off to a slow start," 2 Jan. 2021 Perhaps the greatest practitioner in history of a dying art, Niekro baffled opposing batters with his knuckleball for 24 seasons, mostly with the Atlanta Braves. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Historic Lineup of Baseball Players Who Died in 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 The knuckleball is hard to control and infuriatingly difficult to hit. Washington Post, "Phil Niekro, baseball’s Hall of Fame master of the knuckleball, dies at 81," 30 Dec. 2020 Phil Niekro, who threw a knuckleball to win 318 games in his 24-year major league career, died Dec. 26. Joel Rippel, Star Tribune, "Sid Hartman, Kobe Bryant and so many more: the sporting lives we lost in 2020," 28 Dec. 2020 Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who pitched well into his 40s with a knuckleball that baffled big league hitters for more than two decades, mostly with the Atlanta Braves, has died after a long fight with cancer, the team announced Sunday. CBS News, "Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro has died at 81," 27 Dec. 2020 His younger brother, Joe, also had a long baseball career with an arsenal that included the knuckleball. Paul Newberry, ajc, "Baseball Hall of Famer, knuckleballer Phil Niekro dies at 81," 27 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of knuckleball

1907, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for knuckleball

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The first known use of knuckleball was in 1907

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Cite this Entry

“Knuckleball.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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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

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