ball-and-socket joint, in engineering, mechanical connection used between parts that must be allowed some relative angular motion in nearly all directions. As the name implies, the joint consists essentially of a spherical knob at the end of a shaft, with the knob fitting securely into a mating socket. Like other mechanical joints, a ball-and-socket joint must have some provision for lubrication and is normally provided with a seal to prevent loss of the lubricant. Joints of this type are commonly used in mounting the front wheels of automobiles, allowing these wheels movement sufficient for steering. In this application they are usually called ball joints.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.