Definition of pelota in US English:



  • 1A Basque or Spanish game played in a walled court with a ball and basketlike rackets attached to the hand.

    • ‘Just like in tennis the server must land the pelota in the serve box to start a point.’
    • ‘Basque immigrants began building pelota courts soon after they arrived in the United States, and their love of the sport is considered an important factor in unifying the American Basque community.’
    • ‘We passed what looked like three-sided open-air squash courts - frontons, he said, built by Basque settlers who wanted to play pelota in their new home.’
    • ‘Pelota Mixteca games are held in August on Sundays at 5pm and on festival days.’
    • ‘After watching a game of pelota, I sat on my balcony and got drunk on a dramatic view of rocky ridges calmed down by sheep, cows and farmers.’
    1. 1.1 The ball used in such games as pelota and jai alai.
      • ‘Ramuntcho is a Basque smuggler and player of pelota, the Basque national game, and the story concerns his adventures and those of his fiancée, Gracieuse.’
      • ‘The rock hard pelota crushed the side of his head with a 100 mile per hour impact.’
      • ‘Hit the pelota (Spanish for ball) with such force that the opposing team can't return it with their cestas.’
      • ‘It's played with a pelota, a rock-hard ball five-sixths the size of a baseball, and with the explosive bounce of a golf ball.’
      • ‘You can be a world-class sprinter, and you still have no chance to chase down the pelota.’


Spanish, literally ‘ball’, augmentative of pella, from Latin pila ‘ball’.