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indoor sport, also called tenpins, played by rolling a ball down an alley at ten pins; for lawn bowling, see bowlsbowls,
ancient sport (the bocce of Caesar's Rome is still played by Italians), especially popular in Great Britain and Australia, known as lawn bowls or bowling on the green in the United States.
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. Bowling is one of the most popular participatory sports in the United States, where there are thousands of recreational leagues.

A regulation bowling alley is made of polished wood and measures 41 to 42 in. (104.1 to 106.7 cm) wide and 60 ft (18.3 m) from the foul line, where the ball is delivered, to the center of the head pin (nearly 63 ft/19.2 m to the end of the alley). Bowlers (also called keglers) roll a ball made of rubber composite or plastic, which has three or four finger holes and weighs from 10 to 16 lb (4.5 to 7.26 kg), at plastic-covered maple pins standing 15 in. (38.1 cm) high and weighing between 3 lb 2 oz and 3 lb 10 oz (1.42–1.64 kg), set up in a triangular array in rows of increasing width (one through four) at the opposite end of the alley.

A game consists of 10 frames, with two balls allowed a bowler in each frame. Each pin knocked down counts one point. Toppling all pins with the first ball is a strike and scores 10 points plus the total of the next two balls. Clearing the alley with two balls is a spare and scores 10 points plus the next roll. A perfect game, 300 points, requires 12 consecutive strikes.

Forerunners of modern bowling date to at least 5200 B.C. in Egypt. A form similar to today's, though using nine pins, was popular in Germany in the Middle Ages. Dutch settlers probably introduced the game in America. Tenpins, said to have been devised to evade colonial laws against a nine-pin game, became standard in the mid-19th cent. The invention of automatic pin-setting machines and, later in the 20th cent., television, spurred the growth of bowling.

The American Bowling Congress (founded 1895) and the Women's International Bowling Congress (founded 1916) hold yearly championships. The Fédération Internationale des Quilleurs serves as the world governing body for the sport. Top bowlers now compete for prize money at tournaments under the auspices of the Professional Bowler's Association and the Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour. The games of duckpins and candlepins, played with smaller balls and pins, enjoy regional popularity.


See V. Grinfelds and B. Hultstrand, Right Down the Alley (2d. ed. 1985).



a game in which the object is to knock down a maximum number of wooden or plastic pins with a hand-rolled ball; the pins are arranged on the ground (usually a wooden flooring) in a certain order and at a certain distance (15–20 m as a rule) from the place where the ball is released, which is called the foul line.

Bowling is believed to have originated in Germany, where it was known as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. It has since spread to many countries, not only as a game for amusement but also as one of the popular sports. In 1971 the Fédération Internationale des Quilleurs (founded in 1923) included approximately 50 national federations, representing more than 20 European and up to 20 American countries; approximately 40 million people bowled. The game is most popular in the USA, Great Britain, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan, where national bowling tournaments are held. Throughout countries where bowling is popular, there are special buildings and halls, known as bowling alleys, for play and competition; these halls have automatic ball-returners and pin-setters and devices for signaling the results of each bowl. In the Soviet Union the sport is called kegli, from the German Kegel.


1. any of various games in which a heavy ball is rolled down a special alley, usually made of wood, at a group of wooden pins, esp the games of tenpin bowling (tenpins) and skittles (ninepins)
2. the game of bowls
3. Cricket the act of delivering the ball to the batsman
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