noun (1)
pan·​ga | \ ˈpäŋ-gə How to pronounce panga (audio) \
plural pangas

Definition of panga

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of various small boats often used for fishing specifically : a skiff with a raised bow that is typically powered by an outboard motor The water was an ever-shifting palette of blues and greens as we motored across Ascension Bay in a 23-foot panga, the de facto fishing craft for these parts. — Chris Santella


noun (2)
pan·​ga | \ ˈpäŋ-gə How to pronounce panga (audio) \

Definition of panga (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of panga in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The sportfishing boat remained with the panga until the Coast Guard helicopter arrived. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Oct. 2021 Journeys by panga are often quite perilous, with smugglers tending to travel farther from shore, at night or when there is fog, to avoid being seen. San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Apr. 2022 On May 20, one person drowned when a panga stalled off the coast of La Jolla and its occupants were instructed to swim to shore. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Nov. 2021 Eleven males and one female were detained after the panga came ashore and taken to a Border Patrol station. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 June 2021 On Monday, 23 people were rescued off a panga intercepted near Sunset Cliffs. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 May 2021 The panga was seized and the investigation is ongoing, officials said. San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 May 2021 The 20 men and three women were taken to San Diego lifeguard headquarters and the panga was towed there. San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 May 2021 Personnel from the Coast Guard vessel later located the panga about 15 miles west of Sunset Cliffs, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection public affairs. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 June 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'panga.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of panga

Noun (1)

1811, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1925, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for panga

Noun (1)

probably borrowed from Panamanian Spanish; further origin uncertain

Note: Early citations for panga in English localize the word around the Panama Canal Zone (see, for example, John Edwin Hoag, "Outboard Motoring through the Panama Canal," Motor Boating, vol. 35, no. 1 [January, 1925], p. 284. "With our little fifteen foot panga (Spanish for rowboat) we got about into the middle of Gatun Lake around 2 P.M…"). There appears to be minimal evidence for the word in American Spanish earlier than the middle of the twentieth century. Augusto Malaret enters the word in the supplement (1942) to his Diccionario de Americanismos with the definition "bote, lancha" ("boat, launch") citing a Panamanian informant. In Philippine Spanish the word panga has a much longer documentation. Wenceslao Emilio Retana's Diccionario de Filipinismos (New York/Paris, 1921) defines panga as "embarcación, especie de baroto, bien acabada y ligera, que navega a remo y a la vela" ("boat, a kind of baroto [large dugout canoe], well-finished and light, that is directed by oar and by sail"); his earliest citation for the word, which he claims is of Tagalog origin, is from Juan de la Concepción's Historia general de Philipinas (Manila, 1788). The Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, conflates panga with American Spanish bongo, a widespread word from the Gulf of Mexico to Chile for various small river and coastal craft, though panga and bongo appear to be quite distinct in distribution, and it remains to be proven that they are of common origin. Regarding bongo, first attested in 1748, see further Nicolás del Castillo Mathieu, "El aporte negro-africano al léxico de Colombia," Encuentro Internacional sobre el español de América hacia el siglo XXI, vol. 2 (Bogotá, 1992), pp. 41-99. Castillo Mathieu believes, on rather slim evidence, that bongo is of African origin.

Noun (2)


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Cite this Entry

“Panga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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