[ mawth-bawl, moth- ]
See synonyms for: mothballmothballed on

  1. 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)
  1. to put into storage or reserve; inactivate.

  1. inactive; unused; stored away: a mothball fleet.

Idioms about mothball

  1. in mothballs,

    • in disuse or in storage, especially with reference to standby equipment.

    • (of ideas) dismissed as unworthy of further deliberation.

Origin of mothball

First recorded in 1905–10; moth + ball1

Words Nearby mothball Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use mothball in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mothball


/ (ˈmɒθˌbɔːl) /

  1. Also called: camphor ball a small ball of camphor or naphthalene used to repel clothes moths in stored clothing, blankets, etc

  2. put in mothballs to postpone work on (a project, activity, etc)

  1. to prepare (a ship, aircraft, etc) for a long period of storage by sealing all openings with plastic to prevent corrosion

  2. to take (a factory, plant, etc) out of operation but maintain it so that it can be used in the future

  1. 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