bil·​liards ˈbi(l)-yərdz How to pronounce billiards (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: any of several games played on an oblong table by driving small balls against one another or into pockets with a cue
specifically : a game in which one scores by causing a cue ball to hit in succession two object balls compare pool entry 3

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The word billiards refers to any of various games played on a cloth-topped, cushion-railed rectangular table by driving small, hard balls against one another or into pockets, with a long stick called a cue. Carom, or French billiards, is played with three balls, two white and one red, on a table without pockets. The object is to stroke the white cue ball so that it hits the two object balls in succession, scoring a carom (one point). English billiards is also played with three balls, but on a pocketed table; it is scored in various ways. Snooker is another popular British billiards game. The principal billiards game in North America is pocket billiards, or pool. The Billiard Congress of America controls US tournament play, including the US Open Pockets Billiard Championship, regarded as the world championship.

Examples of billiards in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Building amenities include full-service concierge, library with fireplace, a billiards room, a fitness center with indoor pool and squash court, and a 12th-floor roof terrace with skyline views, fire pits, and outdoor kitchen. Jon Gorey,, 3 Feb. 2023 Lee wanted to learn more about this sport of billiards. The Indianapolis Star, 13 Dec. 2022 Thus Phelan would save the game of billiards and, sure, maybe a few elephants too. Matt Simon, WIRED, 27 Oct. 2022 The night went on with dancing, ice cream from Jeni’s Ice Cream, some competitive rounds of billiards in the farmhouse, lots of chatting, and eventually, a spot of late-night swimming. Alexandra MacOn, Vogue, 6 Oct. 2022 There were eulogies praising Robles for his kindness, his love of road trips and of Friday family nights at home with pizza and champagne while everyone played billiards. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2022 Half the men leave, and the other half hastily set up a game of billiards. Lincee Ray,, 4 Apr. 2022 According to the Encyclopedia of Sports, pall mall was developed in France in the 1500s and 1600s, and inspired by jeu de mail, a French form of ground billiards. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 28 Mar. 2022 Then come back to hang out in your private movie theater, play billiards in your game room, or do whatever your indoorsy heart desires. Rina Nehdar, Travel + Leisure, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'billiards.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French billard billiard cue, billiards, from bille wooden stick, log — more at billet

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of billiards was in 1580

Dictionary Entries Near billiards

Cite this Entry

“Billiards.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


bil·​liards ˈbil-yərdz How to pronounce billiards (audio)
: a game played by driving solid balls with a cue into one another or into pockets on a large rectangular table

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