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Screwball is primarily an American term, though its origins actually date to the early 1800s in Britain. We will examine the meaning of the term screwball, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Screwball may be used as a noun to refer to an eccentric, unpredictable or mentally unstable person. When used as an adjective, screwball describes something that is crazy, eccentric or absurd. The word screwball also refers to a type of pitch in baseball. Interestingly, a screwball was also a type of bowl in cricket, but the term is no longer used. In the early 1800s, the adjective screwy meant behaving in a drunk manner, but by the 1870s screwy meant behaving in a crazy manner. The term screwball was reinvented at the turn of the twentieth century in America to describe a type of baseball pitch, the term came into a use to mean an eccentric person by 1930. Currently, screwball is most often used as an adjective to describe a certain type of comedic movie. The first movie star associated with the screwball comedy was Carole Lombard.


“She wasn’t afraid to go inside on a batter crowding the plate with her screwball, she had a nice riseball and her changeup was pretty good.” (The Northwest Florida Daily News)

The uniqueness of their universe comes from the constant and, at first sight, startling juxtaposition of dreamy cinema-history influences — screwball comedy and film noir must both be big in the Bozon-Ropert household — and biting and very contemporary social commentary. (The Hollywood Reporter)

The xx is, depending how you look at it, pop music screwballs held together by a shared bemoaning of the spotlight or maestros cooking up the long-lost soundtrack to an art movie left on the cutting-room floor. (The Oakland Press)