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.

Origin of pinball

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

Examples from the Web for pinball

Contemporary Examples of pinball

Historical Examples of pinball

  • From pinball games to tennis and skiing, from virtual bowling to virtual football, our thoughts make new experiences possible.

  • Later, in the Recreation Lounge, Ringg challenged him to a game with one of the pinball machines.

    The Colors of Space

    Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • Resolutely, Bart turned his back on the bewitching colors, and bent over the pinball machine.

    The Colors of Space

    Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • We just did a test yesterday and if he inspects this place now, we won't get enough money to build a pinball machine.

    Wait for Weight

    Jack McKenty

British Dictionary definitions for pinball


    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
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 pinball

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper