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.

1880–85, Americanism; pin + ball1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pinball (ˈpɪnˌbɔːl)
a.  a game in which the player shoots a small ball through several hazards on a table, electrically operated machine, etc
 b.  (as modifier): a pinball machine

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

game played on a sloping surface, 1911, from pin + ball. Earlier it meant "a pincushion" (1803).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


earliest of the coin-activated popular electromechanical games, usually found in candy stores, pool halls, drinking establishments, and amusement arcades, some of which, at the height of the game's popularity, were exclusively devoted to pinball. Pinball originated in its modern form in about 1930. Earlier machines had been purely mechanical. The earliest machines with coin slots used marbles and cost a penny to play. Steel balls replaced the marbles, and the single-coin price to play rose with inflation

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
It also provided the opportunity to stop at a local restaurant and play the
  pinball machine and never get to the library.
Description of pinball machine games at a luncheonette.
Wherever you look, pinball is out, video games are in.
Cosmic rays are actually particles, accelerated by supernovae remnants, then
  knocked around in a game of stellar pinball.
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