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Calvin +‎ ball. From a fictional game without rules, played in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.


Calvinball (uncountable)

  1. (games) A deliberately absurd sport without rules.
    • 1996 June 17, Wayne Lockwood, "Nobody without health insurance is a slacker or a loser", Knight-Ridder:
      And every time I would play serious tackle Nerf Calvinball out in the park somewhere, it played over and over in the back of my mind -- what would I do if I broke an arm?
    • 1998, Chris Glaser, Unleashed: The Wit and Wisdom of Calvin the Dog, Westminster John Knox Press, →ISBN, page 71:
      At first my humans very much disliked it when I played croquet with them.... But eventually they decided to accept my participation, and renamed the game “Calvinball,” after the game of some comic book character
    • 2002 March–April, Bret Rappaport and Joni Green, “Calvinball Cannot Be Played on This Court: The Sanctity of Auction Procedures in Bankruptcy”, Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice, volume 11, pages 189–212
    • 2005, The Grate[sic] Book of Moo, Church of MOO,, →ISBN, page ccclvii:
      They are required to play the game of Nomic, in some form, or alternatively, the games Calvinball or Mao, which are basically the same.
    • 2006, Lee Mothes, The New Island Relocation Guide: How to Live on the Island of Possibility[1], →ISBN, page 50:
      A more unusual sport is calvinball, which involves spontaneous rules that are never the same twice.
    • 2006, Cathy Yardley, Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel, St. Martin's Press, →ISBN, page 148:
      Chick Lit, and pretty much all of publishing, plays a lot like Calvinball. There aren’t any rules.
    • 2006, D. C. Simpson, Prehistrionics: Ozy and Millie, 1997-2000,, →ISBN, page 76:
      “House rules parcheesi” is distinct from “Calvinball” in that the latter has no set rules, whereas the former seems to have very specific rules, which are never divulged in the strip, under any circumstances.
    • 2007, David H. Guston, John Parsi, Justin Tosi, “Anticipating the Ethical and Political Challenges of Human Nanotechnologies”, in Fritz Allhoff, editor, Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology[2], →ISBN, page 196:
      If the limitations of life were like the rules in Calvinball, someone like Nozick might ask if there would be anything left for people to do.
    • 2021 December 14, Adam Serwer, “The Supreme Court Is Playing Constitutional Calvinball”, in The Atlantic:
      The Court’s conservative majority is playing constitutional Calvinball, in which it’s never too late to change the rules.

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