Definition of pellet in US English:



  • 1A small, rounded, compressed mass of a substance.

    ‘fish food pellets’
    • ‘Today I noticed that as soon as I dropped a few of the smelly fish food pellets into the water they started to fight over them.’
    • ‘Floater fishing is also working well at Poole Bridge Farm where mixers fished over floating pellets is the top tactic.’
    • ‘Storm still hides food pellets in amongst the rocks, then doesn't eat them.’
    • ‘It's just like a rat in a maze who finds the little lever that delivers the food pellets and can't help but hitting that lever again and again, even if it means leaving most of the maze unexplored.’
    • ‘Hookbaits range from large chunks of bread and marshmallows to dog food mixer and floating pellets.’
    • ‘Each afternoon, four to five fresh pellets of food were weighed and then placed on the cage floor.’
    • ‘Only later was my smugness undercut by the notion that the fly, dropping slowly through the water, could be mistaken by an artless fish for a hatchery pellet.’
    • ‘This result indicates that negative consummatory contrast was produced when the subjects were allowed access to food pellets during the final 3 min of the session.’
    • ‘You know the experiment where the rats hit the bar for a food pellet?’
    • ‘Wiley and three co-workers pour 10 metric tons of food pellets into the pens each day and monitor the fish with underwater video cameras to see when they stop eating.’
    • ‘The data in Figure 1 indicate that food pellets maintained higher rates of lever pressing than did 0.15% saccharin.’
    • ‘Training a lab rat to press a lever in an operant conditioning chamber involves giving it food pellets when it is active near the lever at first, then only delivering the food when it gets closer and closer to pressing the lever.’
    • ‘With its levers and food pellets, the box allowed precise measurement and control of experimental conditions.’
    • ‘They trained a rat to press a bar, using pellets of food as reinforcers.’
    • ‘Some early barbel have been reported from the Park with the usual hot-spots producing to caster, corn or pellets fished over hemp.’
    • ‘MY daughter tossed a handful of food pellets into the water and it became a boiling, threshing mass of giant trout.’
    • ‘I had to carry the animal all the way back home, and swore to myself that I will feed him one hundred doggy food pellets instead of one hundred and two.’
    • ‘In fact, the market in such goods had fallen dramatically at the delivery date and the buyer eventually bought the same goods from a third party for £30,000 and used the pellets for cattle food.’
    • ‘The hungrier it is the faster it will learn, and the strength of its response can be precisely predicted by the rate at which the food pellets are dispensed.’
    • ‘To give one example, a red pellet could contain substances such as potassium perchlorate and strontium carbonate, besides pitch as fuel and starch as binder.’
    little ball, little piece
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    1. 1.1 A piece of small shot or other lightweight bullet.
      • ‘Virtually all the students hit by shotgun pellets were wounded in the back.’
      • ‘She was hit in the leg with two pellets from the shotgun blast during the robbery at Barclay's Bank, Westhoughton, five years ago.’
      • ‘Imagine that the particle beam is like shot pellets fired from a shotgun shell.’
      • ‘These can be easily missed or confused with wounds from shot gun pellets or small caliber bullets.’
      • ‘Without verbal warning, the police proceeded to push us down the road using the sonic grenades, rubber bullets, and wooden pellets, as well as charging at us on their row of motorcycles.’
      • ‘Builders working on the house discovered the damage and the shotgun pellets when they arrived on Monday morning.’
      • ‘By contrast, several students produced medical certificates showing that they were injured by shotgun pellets.’
      • ‘While inversely charged subatomic particles were a lot harder to dodge than shotgun pellets, they still were painful to get hit by.’
      • ‘The police responded by firing rubber bullets, wooden pellets, and tear gas into the crowd.’
      • ‘Katherine caught a few stray pellets from the shotgun before securing her position in the lee of a large oak.’
      • ‘You can see the place in the kitchen ceiling where the shotgun pellets hit.’
      • ‘One man was wounded when the 12 gauge shotgun pellets from a home made pistol hit him in the face at around 1 a.m. Saturday.’
      • ‘The victim underwent surgery yesterday to remove four shotgun pellets from his arm and was too frightened of reprisals to talk about his experience.’
      • ‘In our ever shrinking world, the short range qualities of shotgun pellets mean we don't need big ranges and lots of space to enjoy our sport.’
      • ‘My foot skips over the wall, sending a stream of shotgun pellets down.’
      • ‘Guns were drawn, and two of the automatons fell to aimed shotgun pellets and crossbow bolts.’
      • ‘The same cannot be said for shotgun pellets, bullets, snares or traps.’
      • ‘But the advantage is you can go back to using traditional lead shot size pellets and gain a significant improvement in performance.’
      • ‘Lead from shotgun pellets and other ammunition is poisoning many of the vultures as they scavenge abandoned carcasses and gut piles, a new study confirms.’
      • ‘Soon the concrete was covered with plastic bullets and pellets and the heavy stench of tear gas and pepper spray was in the air.’
      bullet, shot, lead shot, buckshot
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    2. 1.2 A small mass of bones and feathers regurgitated by a bird of prey or other bird.
      • ‘Indigestible materials like fur, feathers and insect exoskeletons, if swallowed, are regurgitated in a pellet.’
      • ‘Since the mid-1980s, his team has been studying a great skua breeding colony, analyzing bones and feathers in pellets that skuas cough up after feeding.’
      • ‘The pellets are the indigestible portions of heron's food.’
      • ‘Prey is often swallowed whole, and the fur, feathers, and bones are later regurgitated in pellets.’
      • ‘Indigestible matter like fur and bones are neatly regurgitated in the form of pellets.’
    3. 1.3 A small round piece of animal feces, especially from a rabbit or rodent.
      • ‘None of the borings in the petioles and root mantle are lined with wound tissue or fecal pellets.’
      • ‘There were several instances when centipedes appeared to sample the shed skin or fecal pellets of a salamander with their antennae.’
      • ‘Some caterpillar species climb onto silk strings decorated with fecal pellets, which are known as frass.’
      • ‘Faecal pellets of zooplankton and benthic crustaceans can also have a different mineralogy from the suspended clay in the ambient sea water.’
      • ‘As small as a quarter of a millimetre, the mites in themselves are harmless, but their excrement pellets can cause huge problems for asthma sufferers.’
      • ‘In each of these studies, cultures of fecal pellets showed that some of the propagules or vegetative tissue survived digestion in these organisms.’
      • ‘Some tunnels are hollow, with walls consolidated by a mucous secretion; others are packed with fecal pellets, indicating that the animal was eating its way through the sediment.’
      • ‘A specimen was found with aggregation of fecal pellets visible at the bottom of burrows.’
      • ‘Fecal pellets were buried within the floor to a depth exceeding one inch, indicating long usage of the nest.’
      • ‘Fossilized pellets of fecal matter, called copralites, store critical information about the diets of the animals that produced them.’
      • ‘Percent volume of a prey type in a fecal pellet was visually estimated to the nearest 5%.’
      • ‘For the rabbit scent, two to three fecal pellets were placed in the runway within 20 cm on either side of the tile.’
      • ‘First, sea ice algae may be a preferred food resource for fecal pellet producers, such copepods or krill and those fecal pellets could rapidly transport sea ice algae to the sediments.’
      • ‘They found that most groups of arthropods could be eliminated from consideration by the size of their fecal pellets; this is true of the Antarctic borings as well.’
      • ‘Furthermore, fecal pellets in the same deposit contain the same or similar prepollen.’
      • ‘Burrow walls are smooth, no plant material is present, and only very few published descriptions mention fecal pellets, or mammalated linings as components of burrow walls.’
      • ‘Their fecal pellets stimulate the growth of microbial spores.’
      • ‘Interpretations of food sources of micronekton could be helped by analyzing their molts or fecal pellets, which responded faster to a new diet.’
      • ‘These specialized fertilizers include compost and processed animal manure pellets.’
      • ‘After bats were captured, we placed them into holding containers for 0.25-1.5 h to collect fecal pellets.’
      excrement, excreta, dropping, faeces, dung, stool, dirt, mess, motion
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[with object]
  • 1Form or shape (a substance, especially animal food) into pellets.

    • ‘Acid insoluble material was pelleted by centrifugation at 14,000 x g for 10 min and the supernatant was mixed with 1/4 volume 100% trichloroacetic acid and incubated on ice for 1 hr.’
    • ‘The rest of the pollen mixture was pelleted by centrifugation.’
    • ‘Debris and insoluble material were pelleted by centrifugation at 12,000 g.’
    • ‘After an initial 10-min centrifugation to pellet cell debris, the samples were processed according to the manufacturer's recommendations.’
    • ‘Material was spun at 6000 rpm for 1 min to pellet nucleic acid, and supernatant was removed to a clean tube.’
    • ‘The nutritional requirements for laboratory rodent species have been worked out and a variety of commercial pelleted diets are available.’
    • ‘Cell debris was pelleted by centrifugation and the supernatant was tested for protein induction.’
    • ‘The mixture was pelleted by centrifugation at 13,000g for 8 min and the ethanol removed.’
    • ‘If you can find a feed mill that grinds its own mash frequently that is a better choice than preserved, pelleted food (which may contain cheap, low-quality ingredients).’
    • ‘A 4 to 6% improvement in feed conversion is generally obtained when diets are pelleted compared with those fed in meal form.’
  • 2Hit with or as though with pellets.

    ‘the last drops of rain were pelleting the windshield’
    • ‘It was teaming, the type rain that pellets the ground and makes grooves.’


Late Middle English: from Old French pelote ‘metal ball’, from a diminutive of Latin pila ‘ball’.