pé·​tanque ˌpā-ˈtäŋk How to pronounce pétanque (audio)
: 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
Now home to 18 wineries, the area also attracts devotees of the French game pétanque. During the last weekend in November, players toss boules (balls) on the median of the town's main street …Saveur
The object of pétanque … is for competitors to roll their boules against … a much smaller ball that is rolled out 6-10 meters (approximately 20-33 feet) on a hard surface (stone dust preferred) to start the game.Kevin Paul Dupont

called also boules

Examples of pétanque in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There’s also ping pong, table football, petanque, darts, volleyball, chess, and board games. Jackie Caradonio, Travel + Leisure, 23 Apr. 2024 Sporty types will be satisfied with a variety of activities to partake in–from tennis to petanque to pilates and yoga or boxing with a boxing champion—while those looking to relax can hide away in the luxurious Valmont spa or wind down with a drink by one of the property’s two pools. Monica Mendal, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 There’s also a series of sports courts on the property — including tennis, badminton, pickleball, croquet, and petanque — and an impressive outdoor play area for the kids. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 28 Feb. 2024 There is much to fill your days on the sprawling 400-acre grounds, from petanque and croquet, to leisurely strolls through verdant trails, to luxe R&R at the spa and pools. Leena Kim, Town & Country, 16 Apr. 2022

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

Word History


borrowed from French, borrowed from Occitan (Provence) pétanca (pétanco in the orthography of mistral), from "foot" (going back to Old Occitan pe, going back to Latin ped-, pēs) + tanca "prop, stake holding something fast," derivative of tancá "to stop (a wheel with a wedge), force in," (as reflexive verb) "to stop," going back to Old Occitan tancar "to bar (a door)," probably going back to Vulgar Latin *stanticāre "to stop (the flow of a liquid), stop, check, hinder" — more at foot entry 1, stanch entry 1

Note: The glosses of tanca given here are based on those given in Trésor de la langue française ("étançon, pieu planté pour fixer quelque chose"), though they do not match the dialect data for the etymon in Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Provençal Occitan tanco is glossed "bar propping a door shut from behind" ("barre qu'on arc-boute derrière une porte pour la fermer"), while the gloss "pieu planté pour fixer quelque chose" is given only for the dialect of Castres in Languedoc. A more accurate Occitan antecedent for the French word is perhaps pé tancat "fixed foot," with the past participle of tancá. A distinctive feature of the game, in opposition to earlier varieties of Provençal bowls (le jeu provençal), was the rule that the bowler pitched the bowl with feet fixed to the ground rather than after taking a running start ("de l'élan").

First Known Use

1951, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pétanque was in 1951

Dictionary Entries Near pétanque

Cite this Entry

“Pétanque.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/p%C3%A9tanque. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

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