Definition of skittle in English:



  • 1[treated as singular] A game played with wooden pins, typically nine in number, set up at the end of an alley to be bowled down with a wooden ball or disc.

    • ‘On Tuesday there is the healthy cooking class at 7.30 pm, while adult skittles takes place on Wednesday at 9.30 pm.’
    • ‘Activities range from bingo and skittles to discos, barbecues and occasional outings.’
    • ‘Then on Wednesday at 9.30PM the name of the game is adult skittles and week ends as per usual with Whist on Thursday at 9pm.’
    • ‘On Wednesday there is the usual adult skittles at 9.30 pm, while on Thursday night at 9pm there is the usual whist.’
    • ‘The daytime activities are free and there will be something for everyone including a mobile skittle alley and a bouncy castle.’
    • ‘The skittles set (the English equivalent to 10-pin bowling) comprised six plastic bowling pins and two plastic balls.’
    • ‘The last time I recall going there was in about 1983, to play a game of skittles.’
    • ‘Adult skittles then finishes off Wednesday's with the games starting at 9.30 am sharp.’
    • ‘There were lots of stalls and games, including darts, skittles and a hoopla.’
    • ‘In this crude sport one sends a large sphere towards a collection of skittles, from which one scores ‘points’.’
    • ‘Graham used to like playing the odd game of skittles but apart from that they were always together.’
    • ‘His local was the West End Working Men's Club, in Audley Road, Chippenham, and he enjoyed playing darts, pool, skittles and bingo.’
    • ‘Members enjoyed a variety of games, bingo, skittles and a guess the baby competition as well as a drinks reception.’
    • ‘More than 100 members meet fortnightly at Woodborough Social Club and enjoy skittles, pool, bingo and disco dancing.’
    • ‘On Wednesday there is adult skittles in Dorsey community centre at 9.30 pm.’
    • ‘I couldn't find the old skittle alley, but thankfully they still have a bar.’
    • ‘One of their pastimes was to play skittles with round stones.’
    • ‘Alex was a real livewire and had loads of energy and many a happy time we had playing football and skittles.’
    • ‘Reg Hinders won the skittles and billiards titles.’
    • ‘He even claimed that it had a skittle alley that was in regular use.’
    1. 1.1A game played with pins set up on a board to be knocked down by swinging a suspended ball.
      • ‘I could have dealt with this one, put everything back on track, and then la-de-day, all would be skittles and beer.’
      • ‘Residents are being called to St Nicholas Church, Southfleet, to sample strawberries and play old fashioned skittles and bowls.’
      • ‘If either of the two white skittles are knocked over, the break finishes and any points made during it are lost.’
      • ‘It seems more likely, however, that the biased ball is just an alternative solution to try to reduce the amount of space needed for the skittles game.’
      • ‘While other mums may let their children win the odd game of dominoes or throw the occasional game of skittles, I always try to win.’
    2. 1.2British informal Chess that is not played seriously.
      • ‘Skittles Chess for fun or chess without a clock; A skittles room is where you go and play for fun while waiting for your next formal pairing.’
  • 2A pin used in the game of skittles.

    • ‘The table featured a croquet-like hoop at one end called the ‘Port’ and an upright skittle at the other called the ‘King’.’
    • ‘The ball hit him square in the forehead and he fell like a skittle.’
    • ‘Sunday knocked us down like skittles and we decided it was time to go.’
    • ‘This forerunner to 10-pin bowling involves flinging a ‘cheese’ through the air at 9 hornbeam skittles.’
    • ‘Pete E and Tom wisely moved out the way as they would have been knocked over like skittles!’
    • ‘They will each be given a turkey and asked to bowl it down the ice towards some skittles.’
    • ‘Wandering among its pillars, I felt like an ant among the pins of a bowling alley: 134 awesome skittles, each more elaborately decorated than the last.’
    • ‘We have been falling over like skittles and that's one game we probably could have done with playing when it was scheduled for.’
    • ‘It would have involved bowling frozen turkeys down the ice at skittles.’
    • ‘He ran the length of the pitch, knocking Leigh defenders down like skittles to score a sensational try and claim victory for Keighley.’
    • ‘Each skittle scores differing numbers of points and success is largely a matter of luck.’
    • ‘The large skittle is presumably a king pin as featured in some of the modern versions of skittles.’
    • ‘It would seem a reasonable confusion if the game equipment included both skittles and hoops/rings?’
    • ‘This float looks like a miniature skittle seen in a bowling lane.’


  • 1 Knock over as if in a game of skittles.

    ‘she put her hand out and skittled a row of bottles’
    • ‘Natural disasters often destroy productive capacity and send share prices skittling downwards.’
    • ‘Guess it would have been OK if the discombobulated old drunk had skittled some kid on a zebra crossing.’
    • ‘I don't drive but, if I did, I am sure that I would have by now, been responsible for skittling a few cyclists over - and who would have been to blame?’
    • ‘I have seen him skittle opponents with the ball in his hand - and quite a few have ended up in hospital such is the power of the man.’
    • ‘And anyone who can steer a 41-seater through our ancient narrow streets without skittling half a dozen street lights deserves a medal.’
    • ‘On one occasion I watched the ball skittle all the bowls much to the chagrin of the bowlers.’
    • ‘Modern sociobiologists have skittled much of Bowlby's theory.’
    • ‘And about ten days later the mother of one of them was skittled in a hit and run accident.’
    1. 1.1Cricket Get (batsmen) out in rapid succession.
      ‘Pakistan were skittled out for 93’
      • ‘However, that effort was matched by Dunfermline's South African amateur Johan Mans, whose 4-25 helped skittle Drumps for just 74.’
      • ‘Hughes then returned 5-22 in skittling Thixendale for 131.’
      • ‘Two run-outs, which took the number of dismissals by the fielders to eight in four games, helped skittle Doncaster for 60.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Drumpellier's miserable start to the season continued as they were skittled for just 82 by Stenhousemuir at the Tryst.’
      • ‘In between all that, however, in 1969, they were skittled for just 36 by Farnworth, the lowest ever total in a Hamer final.’


Mid 17th century: of unknown origin. The word skyttel exists in Danish and Swedish in the sense ‘shuttle, child's marble’, but there is no evidence to connect this with the game of skittles.