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[spit-bawl] /ˈspɪtˌbɔl/
a small ball or lump of chewed paper used as a missile.
Also called spitter. Baseball. a pitch, now illegal, made to curve by moistening one side of the ball with saliva or perspiration.
Origin of spitball
An Americanism dating back to 1840-50; spit1 + ball1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spitball
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the very first "spitball" which spattered upon the blackboard proved a disastrous missile for its thrower.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
  • I thought I could go through the motion of throwing a spitball without letting it go.

    The Iron Puddler James J. Davis
  • Hooper was a spitball artist, and his moist slants kept the Giants guessing in the early part of the game.

    Baseball Joe, Home Run King

    Lester Chadwick
  • He had never cared for the spitball, as he knew that sooner or later it destroyed a pitchers effectiveness.

    Baseball Joe, Home Run King

    Lester Chadwick
  • There are also other modifications called "the fade away," "the spitball," and others.

    Outdoor Sports and Games

    Claude H. Miller
Word Origin and History for spitball

1846 in the schoolboy sense; 1905 in the baseball sense, from spit + ball (n.1).

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



  1. A pitch thrown using a ball wetted with spit or otherwise illegally besmeared (1905+ Baseball)
  2. A nasty but feeble attack: despite the spitballs he keeps getting from the critical liberal media (1970s+)


To speculate; propose conclusions or possibilities: Well, I'm just spit-balling/ You're just spit-balling (1955+)

[second noun and verb senses fr the mischievous schoolboy's vice of throwing bits of paper soaked in saliva; verb sense fr the notion of tossing such spitballs more or less idly]

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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