spit·​ball | \ ˈspit-ˌbȯl \

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)

: 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


The kids were shooting spitballs at each other.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dude really did a spitball and dapped up Kobe Bean Bryant on the way out, bro. The Crossover Staff, SI.com, "HOLDAT: How to Deal With Crazy NBA Fans," 3 May 2018 Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson discuss the Russell Westbrook confrontation along with a few memories (including a spitball) from their playing days. The Crossover Staff, SI.com, "HOLDAT: How to Deal With Crazy NBA Fans," 3 May 2018 What's it matter to them to put the people's work on hold and throw spitballs at each other for nearly two months – at the taxpayers' expense, by the way? Jason Williams, Cincinnati.com, "PX column: Petty GOP fight costs Ohioans, but no real consequences for Republicans," 5 June 2018 And for as much as something like the Oscars tends to reward editing that can make sense of big, bombastic productions, editing really matters for comedies, where punchlines can snap with the right cut or thud like a wet spitball with a sloppy one. Caroline Framke, Vox, "How sharp editing took Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s “The Box” from good to great," 2 Apr. 2018 The perpetrators and proponents of the Gehry design have been throwing spitballs for years. George Weigel, National Review, "A Last Chance to Win One for Ike?," 27 Sep. 2017 Hopefully, this will serve to remind Americans that the internet can be a powerful tool for coordinating positive action, not just a medium for lobbing spitballs. Christian Caryl, Alaska Dispatch News, "Country divided? Caring dead? Not in the floodwaters of Texas, Jack," 30 Aug. 2017 The spitball also was outlawed in 1920, ending an era when pitchers were allowed to load up a ball with saliva produced naturally, or with help from chewing gum or slippery elm (a lozenge taken for coughs and colds) to make their pitches move. Kirk Kenney, sandiegouniontribune.com, "The baseball has been through just about everything through the years," 2 July 2017 There was Clarence Mitchell, a spitball pitcher best known for being the only player in World Series history to hit into an unassisted triple play (Brooklyn Robins vs. Cleveland Indians, 1920). Mike Klingaman, baltimoresun.com, "1924 Phillies had pitching woes that 2017 Orioles fans can relate to," 20 June 2017

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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The first known use of spitball was in 1846

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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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very full or close together

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