spitball

1 of 2

noun

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

spitball

2 of 2

verb

spitballed; spitballing

transitive + intransitive

informal
: 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
His signature pitch was a spitball, the preferred offering of the era. Tommy Birch, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 Lew Burdette’s ‘Best Pitch’ Did Lew Burdette throw a spitball? Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, 21 Apr. 2023 Having to indulge every amateur suggestion in a spitballing session can feel as offensive as if the spitballs were literal. Karla L. Miller, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Feb. 2023 As a teenager growing up in Columbus, Midgley showed early promise in deploying novel chemical compounds for practical ends, using an extract from the bark of an elm tree as a substitute for human saliva while throwing spitballs on the baseball field. Steven Johnson, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2023 He was frequently accused of throwing a spitball. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 10 Oct. 2022 That’s obviously a spitball guestimate. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Hall of Fame righthander who won Cy Young Awards in both leagues (Cleveland and San Diego) and was notorious for using the spitball as part of his arsenal. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 31 Dec. 2022 The Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner was a master of the spitball who wrote a book about using pitch. Bernard McGhee, al, 31 Dec. 2022
Verb
Campaign aides began to spitball. New York Times, 11 Feb. 2021 During the pandemic, Richey, Medved and Acuff had regular Zoom calls to spitball offensive ideas. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Mar. 2023 Stakes was built like a tugboat, sported cursive script tattooed on his biceps, and could spitball on the intricacies of rocket aerodynamics at 200 words a minute. David Howard, Popular Mechanics, 30 Aug. 2020

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

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1950, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spitball was in 1846

Dictionary Entries Near spitball

Cite this Entry

“Spitball.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spitball. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

spitball

noun
spit·​ball ˈspit-ˌbȯl How to pronounce spitball (audio)
1
: paper chewed and rolled into a ball to be thrown or shot at someone or something
2
: a baseball pitch thrown after the ball has been moistened with spit or sweat

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