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[skroo-bawl] /ˈskruˌbɔl/
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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for screwball
  • He's high-school hot, with a screwball smile and a busted laugh.
  • Artists and designers are perpetually obsessed with screwball prognostication.
  • The screwball left turns you could never guess were coming.
  • Of course, complications occur and a screwball comedy ensues.
  • The depression era's complications were reflected in the musicals, screwball comedies, and melodrama they starred in.
  • The movie's biggest strength is a story that refuses to quit and almost makes sense within its own screwball logic.
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
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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for screwball

screwball 1


: screwball antics

  1. An eccentric person; freak, oddball: a catchall for screwballs and semi-screwballs from all over/ He's just another screwhead too big for his britches (1933+)
  2. Inferior, commercial jazz played for indifferent faddists (1936+ Jazz musicians)

[fr screwy and probably based on screwball2; the -ball of this term is the source of the very productive combining word that yields oddball, nutball, etc]

screwball 2


A pitched ball that moves to the right from a right-handed pitcher and the left from a left-handed pitcher, unlike a curve ball

[1928+ Baseball; said to have been coined by the pitcher Carl Hubbell]

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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