mothball

1 of 2

noun

moth·​ball ˈmȯth-ˌbȯl How to pronounce mothball (audio)
1
: a ball made formerly of camphor but now often of naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene and used to keep moths from clothing
2
mothballs plural : a condition of protective storage
put the ships in mothballs after the war
also : a state of having been rejected for further use or dismissed from further consideration

mothball

2 of 2

verb

mothballed; mothballing; mothballs

transitive verb

1
: to deactivate (something, such as a ship) and prevent deterioration chiefly by dehumidification
2
: to withdraw from use or service and keep in reserve : put aside

Example Sentences

Verb Many navy ships were mothballed after the war.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Transaero went bankrupt in 2015, stranding the planes without a buyer, and the two aircraft ended up in mothballs in the Mojave Desert. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 30 Apr. 2020 Today, the mothball fleet is maintained at Bremerton, Washington; Philadelphia, and Pearl Harbor. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 21 Feb. 2019 What about preventing the disease by hanging mothballs around your neck? Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 5 May 2020 Mercifully, their 0-7 shootout record remains in mothballs. Matt Porter, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Feb. 2020 Later, the family saw mothballs had been put in place. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, 24 Nov. 2019 In 2017, Charlie Morton finished Game 7 of the World Series with Ken Giles all but put on mothballs in October. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, 30 July 2019 While standing outside, an officer noticed the smell of decay and saw packets of mothballs at the doors. BostonGlobe.com, 25 Sep. 2019 George retains only one memory of his childhood religion: the smell of mothballs emanating from the congregation’s Sunday best. The Economist, 15 Nov. 2019
Verb
Viessmann introduced its first heat pump in 1979, only to mothball the technology after that energy crisis faded. David Meyer, Fortune, 14 Sep. 2022 Would Germany, for instance, be ready to mothball the new pipeline designed to carry more Russian natural gas to Europe, bypassing an existing route through Ukraine? Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Jan. 2022 All this in a country that plans to mothball its nuclear power stations by next year. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Nov. 2021 Rail freight operators are having to mothball their electric locomotives and switch back to diesel trains, which are slower and cause more pollution, because of the unfolding energy crisis. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 17 Oct. 2021 The Air Force has for years sought to mothball the jet, which is the centerpiece of Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, 23 July 2021 The creepy clown trend may have been a convenient excuse for Mickey D’s to mothball the mascot, but the chain had plenty of other reasons, too: complaints that Ronald’s appeal to kids only contributed to childhood obesity. Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2020 This week, 7-Eleven opened a pop-up store in Children’s Medical Center Dallas’ Moore Auditorium, a large space for meetings indefinitely mothballed in this time of social distancing. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, 23 Apr. 2020 Some believe the ruling party doesn’t really want the laws approved, and might mothball them by referring them to committee for further work. Vanessa Gera, BostonGlobe.com, 15 Apr. 2020 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mothball was in 1892

Dictionary Entries Near mothball

Cite this Entry

“Mothball.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mothball. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

mothball

1 of 2 noun
moth·​ball ˈmȯth-ˌbȯl How to pronounce mothball (audio)
1
: a ball (as of naphthalene) used to keep moths out of clothing
2
plural : protective storage
a fleet put in mothballs after the war

mothball

2 of 2 verb
1
: to remove a ship from use and protect from deterioration
2
: to withdraw from use or service and keep in reserve : put aside
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ