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Tom Collins, a typical highball (1)


high +‎ ball, of the same railroad origins as lowball.


  • (file)


highball (plural highballs)

  1. A cocktail made from a spirit plus soda water etc.
  2. (rail transport, US) An all clear or full speed ahead signal.
    • 1946 November and December, “Notes and News: The American Highball”, in Railway Magazine, page 382:
      A white ball hauled up to the crossbar indicated that the track was clear; a black ball, run up half way, meant stop. This was the origin of the use of the word "highball" to indicate a clear line ahead, which is still used in U.S.A. railway practice.
  3. (climbing) A very high bouldering problem, often with a hard landing.
    • 2014, EpicTV.com
      Austrian all rounder Alex Luger climbs what he describes as a highball boulder problem and what most people would call a solo.
  4. Short for highball glass.
    • 2021, Kate Calder, Three Ingredient Cocktails: 60 Drinks Made in Minutes:
      It's great for serving heavier drinks in. Highballs and pint glasses are excellent substitutes.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Japanese: ハイボール, ハイ



highball (third-person singular simple present highballs, present participle highballing, simple past and past participle highballed)

  1. To make an estimate which tends toward exaggeration.
    Antonym: lowball
    If we highball the price, it comes out to $240. If we lowball it, it's closer to $200.
  2. (US, slang, possibly dated) To move quickly; to hightail.
    • 1959, Steam's Finest Hour, edited by David P. Morgan, Kalmbach Publishing Co. (photo caption):
      Booster-equipped 628 highballs west at Glen Lake, Minn., back in 1947.
    • 1960 October, P. Ransome-Wallis, “Modern motive power of the German Federal Railway: Part Two”, in Trains Illustrated, page 613:
      The water-level route, the whistle and the loud staccato exhaust of this great engine recalled most vividly memories of the New York Central Hudsons highballing along the Hudson River between Harmon and Albany!