mothball

[ mawth-bawl, moth- ]
/ ˈmɔθˌbɔl, ˈmɒθ- /
|

noun

a small ball of naphthalene or sometimes of camphor for placing in closets or other storage areas to repel moths from clothing, blankets, etc.

verb (used with object)

to put into storage or reserve; inactivate.

adjective

inactive; unused; stored away: a mothball fleet.

Nearby words

  1. moth,
  2. moth bean,
  3. moth mullein,
  4. moth orchid,
  5. moth-eaten,
  6. mothballs,
  7. mother,
  8. mother carey's chicken,
  9. mother cell,
  10. mother church

Idioms

    in mothballs,
    1. in disuse or in storage, especially with reference to standby equipment.
    2. (of ideas) dismissed as unworthy of further deliberation.

Origin of mothball

First recorded in 1905–10; moth + ball1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for in mothballs

mothball

/ (ˈmɒθˌbɔːl) /

noun

Also called: camphor ball a small ball of camphor or naphthalene used to repel clothes moths in stored clothing, blankets, etc
put in mothballs to postpone work on (a project, activity, etc)

verb (tr)

to prepare (a ship, aircraft, etc) for a long period of storage by sealing all openings with plastic to prevent corrosion
to take (a factory, plant, etc) out of operation but maintain it so that it can be used in the future
to postpone work on (a project, activity, etc)
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 in mothballs
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper