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pinball

[pin-bawl]
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noun
  1. any of various games played on a sloping, glass-topped table presenting a field of colorful, knoblike target pins and rails, the object usually being to shoot a ball, driven by a spring, up a side passage and cause it to roll back down against these projections and through channels, which electrically flash or ring and record the score.
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Origin of pinball

An Americanism dating back to 1880–85; pin + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pin-ball

Historical Examples

  • He read a newspaper and fed a dollar and a half into a pin-ball machine.

    Ghost Beyond the Gate

    Mildred A. Wirt

  • It was as natural for her to want to flirt with every man she saw, as for a kitten to scamper after a pin-ball.

    The Pearl of Orr's Island

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • The little lady watches every motion as comically as a kitten watches a pin-ball.

  • Aunt Louise made a nice little dressing-case of bronze kid, lined with silk, and Grace made a pretty pen-wiper and pin-ball.

    Captain Horace

    Sophie May


British Dictionary definitions for pin-ball

pinball

noun
    1. a game in which the player shoots a small ball through several hazards on a table, electrically operated machine, etc
    2. (as modifier)a pinball machine
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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

Word Origin and History for pin-ball

n.

as a type of game, 1907, from pin (n.) + ball (n.1). Originally of types of open-air bowling and basketball variation where the goal was to knock down a pin or pins. Earlier still it meant "pin-cushion." The tabletop pin-ball machine is attested from 1937.

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pinball

n.

also pin-ball, game played on a sloping surface, 1911, from pin (n.) + ball (n.1). Earlier it meant "a pincushion" (1803).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper