Meaning: a difficult, strange or unusual situation (This idiom comes from baseball. The person responsible for throwing the ball towards the batter “the pitcher” has an array of different throws, one of them being the “curveball.” It’s a particularly difficult throw to strike, as it can change direction.
Context #1 – At work
Clayton: Hey Zach, I’m not quite sure what’s going on with our manager; he really
threw a curveball with those new company policies.
Zach: Tell me about it. It’s unusual for changes to be made so suddenly. It was
definitely a curveball situation.
Clayton: I’m wondering if the new owners decided to implement the new policies as
soon as they took over the company.
Zach: Either way, they should have warned us. Now I’m just upset.
Context #2 – Dating
Sarah: Oh my goodness! The guy I went on a date with totally surprised me.
Leslie: Why? Was he strange?
Sarah: He hit me with a curveball. Apparently he only likes to date for two weeks and then try to find a new girlfriend after.
Leslie: How strange. It must be difficult dealing with a relationship like that; Definitely a curveball.
Meaning: The idiom “curveball” means a tricky, difficult, unusual situation due to the change in direction into an unusual place. In example #1, Clayton was upset at the unexpected and sudden new policies the company implemented. In example #2, Sarah went on a date to meet a nice guy she could date, but the guy was unusual in his relationship expectations. Sarah was not expecting to meet someone like that.