What does 8 ball mean?

Updated: 12/17/2022
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8-ball is a classic billiards game, probably the canonical game played in the U.S. It is actually played with 15 balls (excluding the cue ball).

To be "behind the 8-ball" or simply "8-balled" is to be put in an impossible or difficult situation; the term derives from the billiards game, where it is illegal to strike the 8-ball until the end of the game. "8-ball" can be used as a generic exclamation of success or victory.

In slang, "8-ball" refers to 3.5 grams of cocaine. Traditionally, cocaine was packaged for sale in rolled up baggies; hence, "ball". The '8' may refer to the amount 1/8 ounce, or possibly the street value of 8 "dimes" ($80) In a rarer usage 8-ball refers to a 40-oz can of Olde English 800 malt liquor. It can also refer to a cocktail made with V8 juice and vodka.

"8-ball" is a colloquial (and possibly offensive) term for a black person, with emphasis on a clean-shaven hairstyle.

In aviation, "8-ball" is slang for the artificial horizon indicator, which is ball-shaped. (Unlike the black 8-ball of billiards, it is brown and blue.) The term is used at one point in the script of "Apollo 13".

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Q: What does 8 ball mean?
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