moth·ball (môthbôl′, mŏth-)
1. A marble-sized ball, originally of camphor but now of naphthalene, stored with clothes to repel moths.
a. A condition of long storage for possible future use: put the battleship into mothballs.
b. A condition of being set aside or discarded: have put the plan into mothballs.
tr.v. moth·balled, moth·ball·ing, moth·balls
1. To remove (a ship, for example) from active service or use and put into protective storage.
2. To defer indefinitely; shelve: mothball a project.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.