pel·​o·​ton | \ ˌpe-lə-ˈtän, ˈpe-lə-ˌtän\

Definition of peloton 

: the main body of riders in a bicycle race

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Did You Know?

If you've ever watched the Tour de France on television, you've seen the peloton, the brightly colored pack of riders making up the central group. You may have also gained some inadvertent insight into the word itself, which as you may have guessed is French in origin. In French, "peloton" literally means "ball," but it is most often used with the meaning "group." It's frequently used in the bicycling context, just as in English, but it can also refer to a group in a marathon or other sporting event. French peloton can also mean "squad" or "platoon," and since we’ve told you that you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that it is also the source of our word platoon.

Examples of peloton in a Sentence

He broke away from the peloton and sprinted into the lead.

Recent Examples on the Web

Looking at how pelotons form is not just about helping cyclists become better competitors. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "What we can learn about crowd behavior by watching the Tour de France," 19 Nov. 2018 With the headwind, the gas came back to the peloton. Samuel Petrequin, The Seattle Times, "Tour riders sprayed with tear gas amid protest by farmers," 24 July 2018 Climbers, sprinters, all-arounders, Olympic medalists, Tour de France stage winners, world titlists, new pros and peloton veterans. James Raia, sacbee, "Seven riders to watch in this year’s Tour of California cycling race | The Sacramento Bee," 11 May 2018 Since Wiggins won in 2012 wearing a Team Sky jersey, the richest team in the peloton has claimed every edition of the race except one, in 2014 when Froome crashed out and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy emerged victorious. Samuel Petrequin, The Seattle Times, "Team Sky’s dominance at Tour de France set to continue," 30 July 2018 Riders were enjoying a calm sunny afternoon until a pileup near the front of the peloton with just over 5K left that sent several riders to the tarmac. Joseph Wilson, The Seattle Times, "Gaviria beats Sagan again to claim 2nd Tour win on Stage 4," 10 July 2018 Long before the peloton sees a mountain range, the Tour de France will throw riders one of the biggest booby-traps in cycling: cobblestone roads. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "The Biggest Booby-Trap at the Tour de France: Cobblestone Roads," 13 July 2018 Fans cheered and waved the black-and-white striped Breton flag on the roadside as the peloton rolled through the country villages. Joseph Wilson,, "Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria wins Stage 4 of Tour de France," 10 July 2018 But the crucial test will be the following day, when the peloton tackles a long, brutal stage that ends with a hard climb in Lake Tahoe. sacbee, "'I’m no scrub': Why altitude doesn't worry Tejay van Garderen in Tour of California | The Sacramento Bee," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peloton.' 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 peloton

1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for peloton

French, literally, ball — more at platoon

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Last Updated

31 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for peloton

The first known use of peloton was in 1951

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English Language Learners Definition of peloton

: the main group of riders in a bicycle race

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