Definition of skittle in English:



  • 1skittlestreated 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.

    • ‘Alex was a real livewire and had loads of energy and many a happy time we had playing football and skittles.’
    • ‘Adult skittles then finishes off Wednesday's with the games starting at 9.30 am sharp.’
    • ‘On Tuesday there is the healthy cooking class at 7.30 pm, while adult skittles takes place on Wednesday at 9.30 pm.’
    • ‘He even claimed that it had a skittle alley that was in regular use.’
    • ‘There were lots of stalls and games, including darts, skittles and a hoopla.’
    • ‘I couldn't find the old skittle alley, but thankfully they still have a bar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Members enjoyed a variety of games, bingo, skittles and a guess the baby competition as well as a drinks reception.’
    • ‘The daytime activities are free and there will be something for everyone including a mobile skittle alley and a bouncy castle.’
    • ‘Graham used to like playing the odd game of skittles but apart from that they were always together.’
    • ‘Activities range from bingo and skittles to discos, barbecues and occasional outings.’
    • ‘The skittles set (the English equivalent to 10-pin bowling) comprised six plastic bowling pins and two plastic balls.’
    • ‘Reg Hinders won the skittles and billiards titles.’
    • ‘On Wednesday there is the usual adult skittles at 9.30 pm, while on Thursday night at 9pm there is the usual whist.’
    • ‘One of their pastimes was to play skittles with round stones.’
    • ‘In this crude sport one sends a large sphere towards a collection of skittles, from which one scores ‘points’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His local was the West End Working Men's Club, in Audley Road, Chippenham, and he enjoyed playing darts, pool, skittles and bingo.’
    • ‘The last time I recall going there was in about 1983, to play a game of skittles.’
    1. 1.1 A game played with pins set up on a board to be knocked down by swinging a suspended ball.
      • ‘Residents are being called to St Nicholas Church, Southfleet, to sample strawberries and play old fashioned skittles and bowls.’
      • ‘I could have dealt with this one, put everything back on track, and then la-de-day, all would be skittles and beer.’
      • ‘If either of the two white skittles are knocked over, the break finishes and any points made during it are lost.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    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.

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


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

    ‘she put her hand out and skittled a row of bottles’
    • ‘On one occasion I watched the ball skittle all the bowls much to the chagrin of the bowlers.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘And about ten days later the mother of one of them was skittled in a hit and run accident.’
    • ‘And anyone who can steer a 41-seater through our ancient narrow streets without skittling half a dozen street lights deserves a medal.’
    • ‘Modern sociobiologists have skittled much of Bowlby's theory.’
    1. 1.1Cricket Get (batsmen) out in rapid succession.
      ‘Pakistan were skittled out for 93’
      • ‘In between all that, however, in 1969, they were skittled for just 36 by Farnworth, the lowest ever total in a Hamer final.’
      • ‘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.’


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.