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[pin-bawl] /ˈpɪnˌbɔl/
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pinball
  • 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.
  • For many years, it was pachinko, or playing the pinball machines.
  • Ask him what his favorite game is, and he's liable to say a tie between pinball and baseball.
  • Owners of rare and vintage arcade and pinball games converge on a hotel ballroom and pack it full of every awesome thing ever.
  • There are a few pinball machines near the entrance, too.
  • In pinball, he reasoned, the prize for winning is getting to play again.
  • Northwest suburban pinball enthusiasts aim for world.
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
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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for pinball



To move about erratically: Robin Williams' comedy routines pinball from one manic impression to another

[1980s+; fr the game of pinball, found by 1911, in which a spring-propelled ball bounces about among obstacles]

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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Encyclopedia Article for pinball

pinball machine

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

Learn more about pinball machine with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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