Definition of pellet in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈpelət/


1A small, rounded, compressed mass of a substance: fish food pellets
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
1.1A piece of small shot or other lightweight bullet.
Example sentences
  • These can be easily missed or confused with wounds from shot gun pellets or small caliber bullets.
  • The same cannot be said for shotgun pellets, bullets, snares or traps.
  • The police responded by firing rubber bullets, wooden pellets, and tear gas into the crowd.
bullet, shot, lead shot, buckshot, slug
1.2 Ornithology A small mass of bones and feathers regurgitated by a bird of prey or other bird.
Example sentences
  • Prey is often swallowed whole, and the fur, feathers, and bones are later regurgitated in pellets.
  • 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.
  • Indigestible materials like fur, feathers and insect exoskeletons, if swallowed, are regurgitated in a pellet.
1.3A small round piece of animal feces, especially from a rabbit or rodent.
Example sentences
  • For the rabbit scent, two to three fecal pellets were placed in the runway within 20 cm on either side of the tile.
  • These specialized fertilizers include compost and processed animal manure pellets.
  • 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.

verb (pellets, pelleting, pelleted)

[with object]
1Form or shape (a substance, especially animal food) into pellets.
Example sentences
  • 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).
  • Material was spun at 6000 rpm for 1 min to pellet nucleic acid, and supernatant was removed to a clean tube.
  • 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.
2Hit with or as though with pellets: the last drops of rain were pelleting the windshield
More example sentences
  • 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'.

  • Pellet is from Old French pelote ‘metal ball’, from a diminutive of Latin pila ‘ball’. Latin pila is also the source of pill, originally balls of medicine, and piles for haemorrhoids (both LME). Platoon is a less obvious relative. It comes from French peloton ‘platoon’, literally ‘small ball’. It captured the concept of a small body of foot soldiers acting as a closely organized unit.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pel·let

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.