pel·​o·​ton | \ ˌpe-lə-ˈtän How to pronounce peloton (audio) , 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 Farther toward the bay, water bikers form a kind of aquatic peloton. Paul Abercrombie,, "Tampa sees a renaissance along the river," 12 Nov. 2019 As often when competitors ride by the sea, strong winds could play havoc with the peloton if the gusts pick up. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2020 Tour de France: Mountains galore for pure climbers," 15 Oct. 2019 Mathematicians and biologists have argued that cyclists' movements within a peloton are primarily driven by optimizing aerodynamics, but new research suggests a different explanation. Rachel Berkowitz, Scientific American, "How Vision Helps Cyclists Communicate in a Pack," 1 Mar. 2019 The 22-year-old Team Ineos rider finished in the main peloton in a stage won by Caleb Ewan in a frantic sprint finish along the Champs Elysees, the third victory on the race for the Australian. Paul Gittings, CNN, "Colombia's Egan Bernal crowned Tour de France champion," 28 July 2019 The 49ers simply are urging him to break out from a peloton of about seven receivers capable of making the roster. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "How will Dante Pettis respond to 49ers Shanahan’s demands?," 25 Aug. 2019 Venus was the lead rider breaking the headwinds in the peloton, the rabbit pulling the runners behind her to world-record pace. Fortune, "In Praise of Venus Williams, the Ultimate Trailblazer: The Broadsheet," 23 Aug. 2019 On Thursday, Dygert took Stage 1 by surprising the peloton with an attack on the second of two climbs. John Meyer, The Denver Post, "Young star of USA Cycling strengthens hold on Colorado Classic in Stage 2," 23 Aug. 2019 Temperatures had reached 105 degrees and the riders — both of whom carried reputations in the peloton as good guys — had grown tetchy. Michael Powell, New York Times, "At Tour de France, Rules of the Road Are Often Unspoken," 25 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for peloton

Time Traveler

The first known use of peloton was in 1951

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Peloton.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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How to pronounce peloton (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of peloton

: the main group of riders in a bicycle race

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