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To mothball something is to make it inactive or put it in storage. The word developed this sense just after World War II when ships deactivated by the domobilizing U.S. military were said to be “mothballed,” referring figuratively to the practice of putting mothballs in the pockets of stored clothing to prevent damage. Today the word is used this way throughout the English-speaking world.


The Tennessee Valley Authority agreed Thursday to mothball 18 coal-fired boilers. [Wall Street Journal]

Developer Larry Silverstein has mothballed plans for a 1,270-foot Tower 2, which would have risen higher than the Empire State Building. [New York Daily News]

With the penultimate launch of the space shuttle expected sometime next week, only one mission will stand between the

A group of people opposed to mothballing the North Auckland rail line are expected to form a picket line. [New Zealand Herald]

Reactors 1 and 2 have been permanently mothballed. [Irish Times]

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