Definitions for hairballˈhɛərˌbɔl
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
a ball of hair in the stomach of a cat or other animal as a result of the animal's licking its coat.
Category: Veterinary Science
Origin of hairball:
hairball, hair ball, trichobezoar(noun)
a compact mass of hair that forms in the alimentary canal (especially in the stomach of animals as a result of licking fur)
A small wad of fur or mass of hair formed in the digestive system of a cat or other animal, from hair ingested while grooming.
A messy, tangled, intractable, stay-away-from-it issue.
A hairball is a small collection of hair or fur formed in the stomach of animals that is occasionally vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Hairballs are sometimes mistaken for other conditions of the stomach such as lymphosarcoma, tuberculosis, and tumour of the spleen. Cats are especially prone to hairball formation since they groom themselves by licking their fur, and thereby ingest it. Rabbits are also prone to hairballs because they groom themselves in the same fashion as cats, but hairballs are especially dangerous for rabbits because they cannot regurgitate them. Because the digestive system of a rabbit is very fragile, rabbit hairballs must be treated immediately or they may cause the animal to stop feeding and ultimately die due to dehydration. Cattle are also known to accumulate hairballs, but as they do not vomit, these are found usually after death and can be quite large. Although uncommon in humans, some hairballs have been reported. These hairballs occur when hair strands collect in the stomach and are unable to be ejected as a result of the friction on the surface of the gastric mucosa. Hairballs are often seen in young girls as a result of trichophagia, trichotillomania and pica. In 2003, a 3-year old girl in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada had a grapefruit-sized hairball surgically removed from her stomach; and in 2004, an 18-year old woman from McAdam, New Brunswick, Canada, had a 2.3 kg hairball surgically removed from her lower intestine. Hairballs can be quite hazardous in humans, since hair cannot be digested or passed by the human gastrointestinal system, and even vomiting may be ineffective at removing the hair mass. This can result in the general impairment of the digestive system.
The New Hacker's Dictionary
1. [Fidonet] A large batch of messages that a store-and-forward network is failing to forward when it should. Often used in the phrase “Fido coughed up a hairball today”, meaning that the stuck messages have just come unstuck, producing a flood of mail where there had previously been drought. 2. An unmanageably huge mass of source code. “JWZ thought the Mozilla effort bogged down because the code was a huge hairball.” 3. Any large amount of garbage coming out suddenly. “Sendmail is coughing up a hairball, so expect some slowness accessing the Internet.”
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