Definition of mothball in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɒθbɔːl/


(usually mothballs)
A small pellet of a pungent substance, typically naphthalene, put in among stored garments to keep away clothes moths.
Example sentences
  • For optimal protection, store in acid-free, nonplastic containers, or in garment bags with mothballs or cedar chips.
  • Avoid using electronic repellent devices, mothballs or other unregistered products.
  • The stench of mothballs enveloped the store as she pried off the lid, revealing a stack of carefully packed leopard skins.


[with object]
1Store (clothes) with mothballs.
Example sentences
  • He left muttering something about mothballing the suit until next year.
  • When temperatures plunge to 15°C, São Paulo’s citizens generally shiver and reach for their mothballed woollens.
2Stop using (a piece of equipment or a building) but keep it in good condition so that it can readily be used again: it would cost the company a lot of money just to mothball the mine (as adjective mothballed) mothballed ships from World War II
More example sentences
  • The notion that the country can sustain a capable defence force by mothballing equipment is laughable.
  • Other mothballed military facilities are available if the number of detainees continues to rise.
  • Along with a cancellation of the Shuttle NASA should mothball the space station.
2.1Cancel or postpone work on (a plan or project): plans to invest in four superstores have been mothballed
More example sentences
  • When market forces caught up with the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, many of its research-cum-defense projects were mothballed.
  • Earlier plans were mothballed when fund managers lost their appetite for another semi-state sell-off.
  • His untimely death meant the project was effectively mothballed, although it toured as a series of exhibitions during the 1970s.


in mothballs

Unused but kept in good condition for future use: it was no use keeping aircraft in mothballs without fully trained crews to fly them
More example sentences
  • Built in 1991, it spent six years in mothballs - as the former USSR fell apart - before coming to Australia and has only done 200 hours in the air (making it a child in aircraft years).
  • ‘I have to say your decision to leave the ramp in mothballs is extremely disappointing, and will be to the disadvantage of local youngsters,’ he told town councillors at their meeting earlier this month.
  • He said: ‘Unfortunately, most of my treasures have to go now, and I'm putting everything else in mothballs.’

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: moth|ball

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