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)

: 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

That said, with the trade deadline now in view, some of the spitballs soon will have to start to stick to walls if indeed the Red Sox are to upgrade. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "What to expect from the Red Sox before Wednesday’s trade deadline," 29 July 2019 Like the kid in the back of the classroom tossing spitballs and making fart sounds, a journal of subversive humor is funny only if there’s someone up front attempting to maintain order. David Von Drehle, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Mad magazine is dying — maybe we should worry," 7 July 2019 Ukus’s family-friendliness was tested when 5-year-old Clara began shooting spitballs, but neither our multitalented server nor the other customers batted an eye. Seth Kugel, New York Times, "A Whirlwind, Round-the-World Food Tour of Queens," 1 July 2019 Democrats, for the first two years of Trump’s presidency, got to sit in the back row and shoot spitballs. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "House Leadership Is Looking Flakey," 17 June 2019 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of spitball


1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1950, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spitball

Statistics for spitball

Last Updated

4 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spitball

The first known use of spitball was in 1846

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spitball



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

Comments on spitball

What made you want to look up spitball? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period when something is suspended

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!