Spitballing – Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Spitballing means the art of tossing out random ideas just to see what sticks. Think of a team meeting where the point is to come together and solve a problem. Everyone tosses in their ideas until one solution stands out.

This term has ties to both classrooms and baseball diamonds, but its meaning goes far beyond these origins. Spitballing is a prime example of an idiom. Idioms are expressions with meanings that can’t be deduced from their individual words. They add richness and color to the English language.

To truly grasp the essence of this phrase and how to use it correctly, be sure to read through the sentence examples provided at the end of this article.

Spitballing Meaning Explained

Spitballing – Meaning and Origin 1

Spitballing is the act of throwing out a stream of random ideas, usually without much thought, in the hope that one might be the perfect solution. It’s brainstorming’s laid-back cousin, where there’s no judgment, just creativity.

As an author, I spitball all the time. Sometimes with myself, a pen, and paper. Other times, I’m with a group of author friends, and we’re throwing around ideas to hash out plots. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas this way!

Is It ‘Spitballing’ or ‘Spit Balling’?

Both forms may appear in informal settings like emails or texts, but the widely accepted version is spitballing as one word.

Spitballing vs Spit Balling Ngram
Spitballing and spit balling usage trend.

Spitballing Origin and Etymology

Originally, a spitball was a baseball maneuver where the pitcher would apply saliva to the ball to make its trajectory unpredictable.

But it’s also found in a classroom setting, which you might be more familiar with. A spitball, in this sense, is a small piece of paper chewed and shaped into a ball to be shot at someone through a straw. Gross, I know. But I remember how boys would do this in class to see how many spitballs would stick to things (or people).

It didn’t take long for spitballing to evolve metaphorically to suggest throwing out unpredictable or random ideas, like the unexpected trajectories in baseball or impish intentions of little kids in a classroom.

Spitballing Synonyms

  • Brainstorming
  • Throwing out ideas
  • Idea jamming
  • Ideas on the fly
  • Tossing around ideas

Examples of Using Spitballing in a Sentence

Spitballing – Meaning and Origin 2

  • We were spitballing ideas for the school event, and Alice suggested a beach theme!
  • Instead of a boring meeting in the boardroom, how about we grab some coffee and do some spitballing?
  • All successful plans start with a bit of spitballing.
  • No idea is too wild when you’re spitballing with me.
  • I love spitballing sessions; they bring out the most unexpected writing ideas.
  • It might sound like we’re just spitballing, but this is how our best projects begin.
  • I overheard their spitballing session, and some ideas were pure gold!
  • Before presenting this to the client, let’s spend an hour spitballing.

The End of This Brainstorm Sesh

Spitballing is a term twisted in mischief and sports but now describes the spontaneous creativity in our lives. Whether you’re pitching wild ideas at work or suggesting weekend plans with friends, remember, it’s all about seeing what sticks! So, see what other idioms stick with you from our collection!