AskDefine | Define pirogue

Dictionary Definition

pirogue n : a canoe made by hollowing out and shaping a large log [syn: dugout canoe, dugout]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the pirogue, in turn from the piragua.



  1. A canoe of shallow draft, made by hollowing a log.
  2. A small flat-bottom boat of shallow draft. Specifically, a flat-bottom boat made of one four-feet by eight-feet piece of plywood, the bottom being a two-feet eight-inches wide eight-feet long pointed-ends lengthwise-centered oval cut from the piece, and the boat's sides being comprised of the two remaining pieces attached lengthwise to the outside edges of the oval.
  3. A style of pasta shaped as miniature canoe folded over.

Extensive Definition

A pirogue is a small, flat-bottomed boat of a design associated particularly with West African fishermen and the Cajuns of the Louisiana marsh. These boats are not usually intended for over-night travel but are light and small enough to be easily taken onto land. The design also allows the pirogue to move through very shallow water and be easily turned over to drain any water that may get into the boat. The pirogue is usually propelled by paddles that have one blade (as opposed to a kayak paddle, which has two). It can also be punted with a pole, referred to a Push Pole, in shallow water. Small sails can also be employed. Outboard motors are increasingly being used in many regions.


The word comes from the Spanish word "piragua"[pɪɾɑɡʷɑ]. Traditionally, it was just another name for dugout canoes, but it came to refer to a specific type of canoe. In Indonesia and the islands around and on rivers in Madagascar they also use pirogues, often with an outrigger and a sail. Most of the Polynesian islands were colonized by means of pirogues. Traditionally in Louisiana the boats were constructed of cypress, but due to unsustainable logging practices a hundred years ago suitable old growth timber is hard to come by. Plywood is a common option for modern pirogues. Many modern duck hunters and fisherman in the swamps of south Louisiana use pirogues made of fiberglass, some of which are outfitted with small outboard motors or even "Go-Devils" a type of motor with a pivoting drive shaft for use in very shallow waters.

Military Uses

In 626, when the Avars were besieging Constantinople, the Slavonians crossed the Golden Horn in their pirogues and landed on the shore of the Lower Blachernae, and in spite of all defensive measures that were taken, looted churches.

Pirogue designs

There is not one pirogue design, but several. Besides small pirogues as seen above, there are also pirogues that can hold up to ten men with paddles and also feature a main sail. These too, however, are not designed (and should not be used) for open waters. They are only (and best) used near shore.
To see an article on modern pirogues' manufacture and uses, see .


pirogue in Guarani: Yga
pirogue in Catalan: Piragua
pirogue in German: Piroge
pirogue in Spanish: Piragua
pirogue in Esperanto: Pirogo
pirogue in French: Pirogue
pirogue in Italian: Piroga (imbarcazione)
pirogue in Hebrew: פירוג
pirogue in Lithuanian: Piroga
pirogue in Polish: Piroga
pirogue in Portuguese: Piroga
pirogue in Romanian: Pirogă
pirogue in Swedish: Pirog (farkost)
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