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

Then get out on the water, on the lookout for whale species such as blue, sperm, and fin; and cruise the coast in a traditional panga boat. National Geographic, "Baja and the Sea of Cortez Expedition: Marine Conservation," 15 Sep. 2019 The loads are often transported to Central America as a waypoint to then be smuggled in panga boats, go-fast vessels or homemade submarines to the western coast of Mexico. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pence praises Coast Guard drug seizure efforts and criticizes immigration system during San Diego visit," 12 July 2019 The panga has been seized and the five people detained Wednesday morning were taken in for processing by federal authorities. Dana Littlefield,, "5 people detained after panga discovered at Torrey Pines State Beach," 27 June 2018 The panga was found at the foot of Guizot Street near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard around 6:50 a.m., said Mónica Muñoz, a spokeswoman for the San Diego FIre-Rescue Department. Karen Kucher,, "Abandoned panga found in Sunset Cliffs; Border Patrol investigating," 23 Apr. 2018 San Diego lifeguards intercepted the boat in the surf and towed it a little farther out to sea for the safety of those onboard the panga, an official said. Pauline Repard,, "13 Mexican immigrants arrested in boat off La Jolla coast," 11 Mar. 2018 San Diego lifeguards intercepted the boat in the surf and towed it a little further out to sea for the safety of those onboard the panga, an official said. Pauline Repard,, "Panga boat seized off La Jolla; immigrants in custody," 10 Mar. 2018 Getting There: The only way to get to Little Corn Island is by hopping over from the neighboring Big Corn Island by panga, an open ferry. Condé Nast Traveler, "Car-Free Destinations for Your Next Island Vacation," 1 June 2018

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.

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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 hacía 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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17 Sep 2019

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The first known use of panga was in 1811

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