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

Examples of mothball in a Sentence

Verb Many navy ships were mothballed after the war.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Cat repellents and mothballs are an effective way to keep peacocks out of gardens. Jacqueline Pinedo, Sacramento Bee, 14 Apr. 2024 Impressionistic images—garlic, mothballs, the color of the sea, the temple around the corner—are peppered throughout. Vrinda Jagota, SPIN, 27 Mar. 2024 The smell of mothballs wafts from the interior, the ghost of the paradichlorobenzene used decades ago to keep beetles and other pests away from the precious collection. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024 But the Seahawks, despite finishing over .500, didn’t make the playoffs, so the Good Ship Pete was ready for mothballs. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Jan. 2024 And even this mostly excellent production betrays a faint odor of mothballs, especially in the projection-heavy scenic design of Paul Tate dePoo III, so dependent on the feel of Terry Gilliam’s original animations. Jesse Green, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Vacant for the last three years, the building at 1080 E. Chicago St. has been in mothballs because of restrictions from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant the city received in 2011 to help fund the its renovation. Gloria Casas, Chicago Tribune, 25 July 2023 One submarine that went into mothballs was USS Stickleback, a Balao-class submarine commissioned in 1945—but quickly decommissioned in 1946. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 4 July 2023 Your grandma's favorite method is on the outs now that many experts consider the chemicals in mothballs — naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene — a health risk. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, 30 June 2023
Verb
Under the pact, most of Fordow’s centrifuges were mothballed, and the rest were allowed to make isotopes only for medical applications and civilian research. Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 Near-complete movies have been mothballed, underperforming shows pulled from streaming libraries. T.m. Brown, New York Times, 9 Apr. 2024 As a result, Program 437—the name of the project—was soon mothballed. Aaron Bateman, Foreign Affairs, 7 Mar. 2024 With its economy on a war footing and mothballed factories coming back online, Russia now is generating around 4,500 armored vehicles a year for its 470,000-person invasion force in Ukraine. David Axe, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Don't mothball that ugly Christmas sweater just yet. Jenna Prestininzi, Detroit Free Press, 24 Feb. 2024 These days, the equipment that Estevez and her husband bought for their two trailers — ovens, cooking wares and more — is mothballed in their garage. Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 Many filmmakers also criticized the initial decision to mothball the movie on social media. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 13 Nov. 2023 Production facilities were mothballed to comply with Covid lockdowns, and stores were shuttered, bringing in-person sales to a halt. Andy Hoffman, Fortune Europe, 8 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mothball.' 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

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 25 May. 2024.

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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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