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noun (1)

plural boules
: a round, usually crusty loaf of bread
A big seller at Breadsmith … is the French boule, a solid lump of round bread, golden and slightly textured on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle. It works well as a bowl—slice off the top, hollow out its middle, and fill it with soup, chili or cheese fondue.Jennifer Lowe
Most people think of French bread only as long, slender loaves, but it is also commonly made into round loaves (boules) and dinner rolls …Reader's Digest Crafts & Hobbies
usually plural in form but singular in construction : a bowling game of French origin in which a player standing within a circle placed or scratched on the ground throws or rolls usually steel balls down a long typically dirt or gravel court to stop as close as possible to a smaller target ball : petanque
Outside, on the groomed grounds, old generals from a different war played boules, the French game of lawn bowling.William Prochnau
When we say boules, we should more properly be using the word pétanque, derived from the French for "feet anchored".Guy Walters
: the ball thrown or rolled in boules
… everyone knows the bowling game, which is similar to Italian boccie but played with baseball-sized … steel balls (boules) on dirt courts.Barbara Jepson
: a synthetically formed mass (as of sapphire) with the atomic structure of a single crystal
: a game similar to roulette in which a ball is put in motion in a bowl and players bet on the numbered compartment it will come to rest in


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noun (2)

plural boules
: a legislative council of ancient Greece consisting first of an aristocratic advisory body and later of a representative senate

Examples of boule in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Below, men and women, boys and girls played boules; others played soccer. Peter Heller, Condé Nast Traveler, 2 Jan. 2024 To form a boule, pure silicon has to be heated in a special crucible to twenty-seven hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 Bob’s Well Bread A hub of the Santa Ynez Valley, Bob’s bakes up the valley’s best boules each morning for its two indoor-outdoor cafés serving the area—the original in Los Alamos and a second in Ballard. Hugh Garvey, Sunset Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Do all bread recipes require bread flour? Sourdough boules, bagels, and your basic loaf of bread all rely on the high protein level of bread flour to develop a strong gluten network. Claire Saffitz, Bon Appétit, 10 Aug. 2023 Other items include chocolate chip brioche, blueberry muffins, sour cream coffee cake loaves, raisin sticky buns, lemon pound cake, and savory breads such as country boules and whole-grain loaves. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 5 July 2023 Thus far, 2023 has seen Pane Bianco, Swedish Limpa bread, bagels, a classic French boule with poolish, some intriguing blueberry muffins with turmeric to inflict on unsuspecting houseguests. Diane Batchik, Washington Post, 10 May 2023 In late March, the Orioles showcased some of the new food offerings at Camden Yards this season, including crab chips, a three-foot hot dog topped with crab dip and a crab pretzel boule. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 7 Apr. 2023 This ambitious young sculptor and ceramist presents here more than a dozen black ceramic ovoids — some as large as a cat bed, but most about the size of a Balthazar boule — that each have an aperture on top and small figures in their interior. New York Times, 28 Oct. 2021 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

borrowed from French, "ball," going back to Middle French — more at bowl entry 2

Note: In sense 1 the French word is short for boule de pain, literally, "ball of bread."

Noun (2)

Greek boulē, literally, "will," from boulesthai "to wish"

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1911, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun (2)

1840, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of boule was in 1840

Dictionary Entries Near boule

Cite this Entry

“Boule.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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