spit·​ball | \ ˈspit-ˌbȯl How to pronounce spitball (audio) \

Definition of spitball

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : paper chewed and rolled into a ball to be thrown or shot as a missile
2 : a baseball pitch delivered after the ball has been moistened with saliva or sweat


spitballed; spitballing

Definition of spitball (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive + intransitive

: to propose (ideas, suggestions, etc.) for consideration in an informal, preliminary way Writers spitballed story ideas; editors dreamed up coverage ….— Nick Summers He has his finger on every facet of the concert presentation, using rehearsals to tweak the visuals and spitball new ideas.— Marshall Fine Linklater, Coltrane, and Hawke had started spitballing dialogue a year earlier, though they'd begun anticipating the scene years before that.— Nathan Heller … it's probably a little late for Vance Joseph and his coaching staff to be spitballing on what kind of team they want the Broncos to be.— Mark Kiszla

Examples of spitball in a Sentence

Noun The kids were shooting spitballs at each other.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After the game, Orioles manager Davey Johnson accused the 39-year-old pitcher of throwing a spitball. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Preston Wilson slams Orel Hershiser after his Jose Altuve dig," 30 July 2020 There also used to be a type of pitch called a spitball, when a pitcher would literally spit on the ball or lick his fingers and rub them around on the ball before throwing it. Aj Willingham, CNN, "There's no crying, er, spitting in baseball anymore. But why was it a thing in the first place?," 1 July 2020 While Choate worked with one student, others performed the online equivalent of passing notes in class, or firing spitballs. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus keeps these boys at home. So they turn on their computers, time to rehearse," 19 Mar. 2020 Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch from the Yankees ace Carl Mays in August, an incident that contributed to support for banning spitballs. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "Baseball’s Longest Game, 100 Years Ago Today," 1 May 2020 Screwball, knuckleball, spitball, from down by his hip to up around his ear and all points in between. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc: El Tiante and the dream that almost wasn't in game one of the 1975 World Series," 29 Mar. 2020 And yet, gradually, despite the consternation of his aides (and the authors’ narrative intent), Trump emerges as more than just a needy adolescent throwing spitballs at the deep state. Joe Klein, Washington Post, "‘Losers,’ ‘dopes’ and ‘scum’: Inside Trump’s war with his own advisers," 16 Jan. 2020 Online, political memes flew back and forth like spitballs, and even some of the most innocent ones (like that fish tube) took on a sense of ecstatic nihilism. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "The 8 Most Important Memes of 2019," 21 Dec. 2019 And America was not yet locked in its forever spitball war between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces. Joe Heim, Washington Post, "The ‘Downton Abbey’ cast wants to take you back to a more innocent time — 2012," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spitball.' 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 spitball


1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1950, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for spitball

Time Traveler

The first known use of spitball was in 1846

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Statistics for spitball

Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spitball.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spitball. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for spitball


How to pronounce spitball (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spitball

: a small piece of paper that is chewed and rolled into a ball so that it can be thrown or shot at someone
baseball : an illegal pitch in which the ball is made wet with saliva or sweat

More from Merriam-Webster on spitball

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spitball

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spitball

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