from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A cocktail served in a tall glass and consisting of liquor, such as whiskey, mixed with water or a carbonated beverage.
  • noun A railroad signal indicating full speed ahead.
  • noun A high-speed train.
  • intransitive verb To move ahead at full speed.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A method of settling who shall pay for something, in which the numbered balls that are used in the game of pin-pool are thrown out from a receptacle, the highest ball winning and the lowest paying.
  • noun A ‘long drink,’ consisting of a modicum of whisky diluted with club soda or mineral water, and served with cracked ice in a tall glass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An alcoholic beverage having a liquor such as whiskey mixed with water or a carbonated beverage, and usually served with ice in a tall glass.
  • noun (Railroads) A railroad track signal permitting the engineer to proceed at full speed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A cocktail made from spirit plus soda water etc.
  • noun rail transport An all clear or full speed ahead signal.
  • verb To make an estimate which tends toward exaggeration.
  • verb slang To move quickly; to hightail.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a mixed drink made of alcoholic liquor mixed with water or a carbonated beverage and served in a tall glass


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word highball.


  • Unless you're climbing so-called highball problems you'll climb unroped and close enought to the ground to be safe to jump off from.

    unknown title 2009

  • Did Darwyn Cooke come up with the nickname "highball" for Hal Jordan, or was it someone else?

    Judging (DC’s May) Books By Their Covers | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources 2008

  • Similarly, in another study, Philadelphia bartenders were found to pour less liquor into "highball" glasses than they did into tumblers.

    Plate Size Influences Portion Size | Impact Lab 2006

  • The telegraph operator at Half Way (merely a name for a station, for there was not a habitation in sight) thrust his long upper-length out of the telegraph office window one afternoon and waved a "highball" to the waiting electric locomotive on the sidetrack.

    Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive, or, Two Miles a Minute on the Rails Victor [pseud.] Appleton

  • Once barely sipping at wines, cocktails, brandy-and-soda, she now took to the latter, or, rather, to a new whisky-and-soda combination known as "highball" with a kind of vehemence which had little to do with a taste for the thing itself.

    The Titan Theodore Dreiser 1908

  • A "highball" in each hand was frequently mentioned in the 1960s.

    The Big Apple 2009

  • "highball" as he pondered over some means of circumventing the social treason of his dethroned "friend."

    The Midnight Passenger : a novel Richard Savage 1874

  • "highball" (only one, the ladies would say to my dad when he reached under the sink where he kept his one bottle of whisky). - 2010

  • Yes, sir, "and the conductor, giving the watching engineer of his train the" highball, "caught the hand-rail of the car and swung himself aboard as the train started.

    Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive, or, Two Miles a Minute on the Rails Victor [pseud.] Appleton

  • It is served in a salt-rimmed highball glass with 3-5 ice cubes: 1.5 oz tequila, 1/2 ounce lime juice (or juice of 1/2 a small Mexican lime), 2 ounces sangrita and filled with grapefruit soda (Fresca or Squirt, sometimes omitted).

    Sangrita and sangria 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.