Slang. an eccentric or whimsically eccentric person; a nut.
Baseball. a pitched ball that curves toward the side of the plate from which it was thrown.


Slang. eccentric or whimsically eccentric: What a screwball idea!

Origin of screwball

1865–70; 1935–40 for def 2; screw + ball1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for screwball

Contemporary Examples of screwball

Historical Examples of screwball

  • Whatever came up—a screwball flying saucer or a berserk psycho waving a gun.

    Twelve Times Zero

    Howard Carleton Browne

  • "This is what I got out of checking all the screwball factories I could reach personal and by mail," Clocker said.

    At the Post

    Horace Leonard Gold

British Dictionary definitions for screwball



an odd or eccentric person


odd; zany; eccentric
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 screwball

"eccentric person," 1933, U.S. slang, earlier as a type of erratic baseball pitch (1928), from a still earlier name for a type of delivery in cricket (1866), from screw (n.) + ball (n.1). Screwball comedy is attested from 1938, in reference to Carole Lombard.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper