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curveball

something deceptive

TRANSLATION

curveball (fig.) = Stolperfalle, unerwartete Wendung; to throw sb. a curve ball = jdm. eine (unangenehme) Überraschung bescheren; curveball (sports) = Wurftechnik beim Baseball, bei dem die Flugbahn des Balls eine Kurve beschreibt, um den Schlagmann zu verwirren

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

By modifying our attitudes, we can help our kids cope with life's inevitable CURVEBALLS.

(CNN.com)

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It is never easy to figure out the exact amount of mileage you will be using when you rent a car because there are always a lot of CURVEBALLS thrown your way when renting a car...

(Free Online Library)

Did you
know?

curveball
noun, idiom

- something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive

(American Heritage Dictionary)

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Curveball is one of the many idioms that derive from America's national sports pastime, baseball. Like cricket, each play in baseball begins when the pitcher throws the ball towards the batter who attempts to hit it with his bat. Pitchers throw different types of pitches, such as the fastball, which as its name implies is very fast but also usually on a straight line.

The curveball on the other hand is thrown so that the ball moves either to the left or right (curves). The idea is to try to confuse the batter and make it difficult for him to hit the ball properly. And this concept of confusing or unexpected is where the figurative sense of curveball derives from.

It would take volumes to explain all of the English idioms that originate from baseball, but here are a few additional examples:

- cover all bases = to ensure safety. In baseball, a defensive player covers a base by standing close to it, ensuring a runner cannot reach it safely. In business, covering one's bases means being prepared for every contingency. (We need to cover all the bases before the board meeting)

- step up to the plate = to take responsibility for getting something done. Refers to when a player must approach home plate to take a turn at batting. (Linda really stepped up to the plate by getting approval for the new marketing strategy)

- strike = failure, loss. In baseball, a strike is when the batter swings at and misses a pitch. A batter with three strikes is out and must stop batting. The word strike has crept into common English usage to mean a failure or a shortcoming or a loss. (You already have two strikes against you, so be prepared when you meet the boss)

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SYNONYMS

deception, trick, gimmick, manipulation, plot, ploy, ruse, trick, dodge, intrigue, machination

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Practice OWAD in a conversation today, say something like:

"What worries me is a negotiation CURVEBALL involving either delivery delays or new payment conditions."

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