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screw·​ball ˈskrü-ˌbȯl How to pronounce screwball (audio)
plural screwballs
: a baseball pitch that spins and breaks in the opposite direction to a curve
The students learned that most pitches—such as fastballs, curveballs, sliders and screwballs—spin because pitchers wrap their fingers around the ball and, in releasing it, whip them across its surface.Scientific American
Back in '34, he had made five future Hall of Famers whiff, one by one, and he had done it just as Fernando had, with a screwball—a pitch that breaks in toward a batter, opposite of a curveball.Tom Friend
informal : a whimsical or eccentric person
The local TV stations virtually ignored him, and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution portrayed him as a screwball with a harebrained scheme.William Oscar Johnson


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: extremely eccentric or whimsical : zany
a screwball comedy
his screwball charm
By some ditsy, screwball logic, the Cubs decided that Dean had shown enough of his old flair to warrant another season, and so they went ahead and asked him back.Paul Auster

Examples of screwball in a Sentence

Noun She really did that? What a screwball. a screwball who liked to save lint and bits of string Adjective she's always off on some screwball plan
Recent Examples on the Web
What really tickled the director, though, was the idea of Arjona’s character falling in love with one of Powell’s alter egos rather than the real man himself, laying the groundwork for a classic screwball comedy. Declan Gallagher,, 7 June 2024 Then there was the big question of who the audience might be for a movie that’s part political drama, part arty sci-fi, part romance and even part screwball comedy, peppered throughout with lofty references to literature, philosophy, history and religion. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 May 2024
His offstage demeanor was as analytical as his onstage character was screwball. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Mar. 2024 Invariably in screwball plots like this, the precious cargo ends up in the wrong hands. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 See all Example Sentences for screwball 

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


1908, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1936, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of screwball was in 1908

Dictionary Entries Near screwball

Cite this Entry

“Screwball.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
screw·​ball ˈskrü-ˌbȯl How to pronounce screwball (audio)
: a baseball pitch that moves away from a straight path in a direction opposite to a curve
informal : a foolish or odd person


2 of 2 adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on screwball

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