See more synonyms for highball on Thesaurus.com
  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)
  1. Slang. to move at full speed.
verb (used with object)
  1. to signal to (the engineer of a train) to proceed.

Origin of highball

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

Examples from the Web for highball

Contemporary Examples of highball

Historical Examples of highball

  • Joe finished his highball and came to his feet to get another one.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • Kennedy finished off his highball and began to build another immediately.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for highball


  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
  1. (intr) to move at great speed
  2. (tr) to drive (a vehicle) at great speed

Word Origin for highball

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

Word Origin and History for highball

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