soft·ball (sôftbôl′, sŏft-)
a. A variation of baseball played on a smaller diamond with a larger, softer ball that is pitched underhand.
b. The ball used in this game.
2. A question, especially one posed during an interview or public forum, that is easy to answer and does not cause embarrassment: "Softballs aside, there have been a number of times when audience members asked substantive questions" (Elisabeth Bumiller).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.