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mothball

[mawth-bawl, moth-] /ˈmɔθˌbɔl, ˈmɒθ-/
noun
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)
2.
to put into storage or reserve; inactivate.
adjective
3.
inactive; unused; stored away:
a mothball fleet.
Idioms
4.
in mothballs,
  1. in disuse or in storage, especially with reference to standby equipment.
  2. (of ideas) dismissed as unworthy of further deliberation.
Origin
1905-1910
1905-10; moth + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for in mothballs

mothball

/ˈmɒθˌbɔːl/
noun
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)
verb (transitive)
3.
to prepare (a ship, aircraft, etc) for a long period of storage by sealing all openings with plastic to prevent corrosion
4.
to take (a factory, plant, etc) out of operation but maintain it so that it can be used in the future
5.
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
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Word Origin and History for in mothballs

mothball

n.

also moth-ball, moth ball, "naphthalene ball stored among fabrics to keep off moths," 1891, from moth + ball (n.1).

v.

1902 in a literal sense (to store away with mothballs), from mothball (n.); figurative sense from 1901.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for in mothballs

in mothballs

adjective phrase

In reserve; on ice (late 1940s+)


mothball

verb

To take something out of active use and preserve it for the future, as clothing is stored with mothballs: ''It's really sad to see Buran on the ground.'' It was used in 1988 and then mothballed (1949+)

Related Terms

in mothballs


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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