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2017 Word of the Year

highball

[hahy-bawl] /ˈhaɪˌbɔl/
noun
1.
a drink of whiskey mixed with club soda or ginger ale and served with ice in a tall glass.
2.
Railroads.
  1. a signal to start a train, given with the hand or with a lamp.
  2. a signal for a train to move at full speed.
3.
Military Slang. a hand salute.
verb (used without object)
4.
Slang. to move at full speed.
verb (used with object)
5.
to signal to (the engineer of a train) to proceed.
Origin of highball
1880-1885
An Americanism dating back to 1880-85; high + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for highball
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Joe finished his highball and came to his feet to get another one.

    Mercenary Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • Kennedy finished off his highball and began to build another immediately.

    Adaptation Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • I suppose you'll be wanting to join dear Mr. Frazer in a highball; you're such a pet of his.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • Next day, along about first-drink time, I felt a craving for a highball.

    Cutting It out Samuel G. Blythe
  • Sensing his need, I brought him a highball, and one for myself.

    The Chamber of Life Green Peyton Wertenbaker
  • Youre not drinking your highball, Mr. Denby, Alice observed.

    Under Cover Roi Cooper Megrue
  • No, I am not in a hurry; and it's such a disagreeable day you ought to have a highball.

    Cytherea Joseph Hergesheimer
  • I believe you had reached the highball incident in your recital.

    The Main Chance Meredith Nicholson
  • I don't know what a mashie is, but I do know what a highball bat is.

    The Lash Olin L. Lyman
British Dictionary definitions for highball

highball

/ˈhaɪˌbɔːl/
noun
1.
a long iced drink consisting of a spirit base with water, soda water, etc
2.
(originally in railway use) a signal that the way ahead is clear and one may proceed
verb
3.
(intransitive) to move at great speed
4.
(transitive) to drive (a vehicle) at great speed
Word Origin
C19: (in sense 2) from the early railway signal consisting of a ball hoisted to the top of a pole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for highball
n.

type of alcoholic drink, 1898, probably from ball "drink of whiskey;" high because it is served in a tall glass.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for highball

highball

noun

  1. A signal denoting a clear track or clearance to start or accelerate (1897+ Railroad)
  2. A train running on schedule, or an express train (Railroad)
  3. An iced, mixed alcoholic drink taken in a high glass: He quaffed a couple of rye highballs and left (1898+)
  4. A military salute (WWI Army)

verb

To speed; rush: A train was thirty yards away, highballing down the track/ One New York distributor highballed 30 trucks through the Holland Tunnel (1925+ Railroad)

[fr the former use of a railroad trackside signal using a two-foot globe, raised or lowered, to instruct the engineer; the military sense fr the use of a railroad conductor's raised hand or fist as a signal to the engineer to start, the term transferred from the mechanical signal; the drinking sense is probably fr a ball, ''drink of whiskey'' in a high glass]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Word Value for highball

17
19
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