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In storage, either literally or figuratively. Mothballs—little balls composed of a pungent chemical used to deter moths—are often kept in closets, attics, and other places where clothes are stored. I'm so glad that I can finally get my summer clothes out and put my winter clothes back in mothballs. That plane is in mothballs while we wait for a new shipment of parts. I did like your idea, Tom, but we have to keep it in mothballs for now while we finish our outstanding projects.
See also: mothball
bring (something) out of mothballs
1. To take an object out of storage after a period of disuse. Mothballs—little balls composed of a pungent chemical used to deter moths—are often kept in closets, attics, and other places where clothes are stored. Now that the weather is getting colder, it's time to bring our winter clothes out of mothballs. This new shipment of parts will allow us to bring the plane out of mothballs soon.
2. By extension, to begin to use or implement something. I did like your idea, Tom, but we can't bring it out of mothballs until we finish our outstanding projects.
put (something) in mothballs
1. Literally, to put cloths into storage, as in a closet or attic, often packed with mothballs to keep moths from eating the material. I'm so glad that I can finally get my summer clothes out and put my winter clothes back in mothballs. I'm putting my maternity clothes in mothballs, because we might try to have another baby in a few years.
2. To store something, especially a vehicle of some kind, in reserve for future use. We put the plane in mothballs while we wait for a new shipment of parts. The famed warship has been put in mothballs after over 40 years of navy service.
3. To put something on hold; to defer, delay, or postpone something until a future. I did like your idea, Tom, but we have to put it in mothballs for now while we finish our other projects. The city council has put the refurbishment project in mothballs due to a budgetary conflict.
bring something out of mothballs
Fig. to bring something out of storage and into use; to restore something to active service. They were going to bring a number of ships out of mothballs, but the war ended before they needed them.
put something in mothballs
1. Lit. to put something into storage in mothballs. He put his winter coat in storage with mothballs each fall and had to air it out for a week each spring.
2. Fig. to put something into storage or reserve. (Often said of warships.) The navy put the old cruiser in mothballs and no one ever expected to see it again. Let's just put this small bicycle in mothballs until we hear of a child who can use it.
put in mothballs
Defer indefinitely or for a very long time, as in We've put the plans for a new library in mothballs. This expression alludes to storing woolen clothing or other items with marble-size balls of naphthalene or camphor to prevent them from being damaged by moths. [1940s]
in mothballsunused but kept in good condition for future use.
See also: mothball