The generic term pocket billiards is sometimes also used, and favored by some pool-industry bodies, but is technically a broader classification, including games such as snooker, Russian pyramid, and kaisa, which are not referred to as pool games. In most parts of the world, it is commonly referred to as just "billiards", analogous to the term "bowling" being commonly used to refer the game of ten-pin bowling.
The etymology of "pool" is uncertain. The Oxford English Dictionary speculates that "pool" and other games with collective stakes is derived from the French poule (literally translated "hen"), in which the poule is the collected prize; alternatively it could derive from the verb to pool in the sense of combining objects or stakes. The oldest use of the word "pool" to describe a billiards-like game was made in 1797 in a Virginia newspaper. The OED defines it as generally "any of various types of billiards for two or more players" but goes on to note that the first specific meaning of "a game in which each player uses a cue ball of a distinctive colour to pocket the balls of the other player(s) in a certain order, the winner taking all the stakes submitted at the start of the contest" is now obsolete, and its other specific definitions are all for games that originate in the United States. In the British Empire for most of the nineteenth through early twentieth century, pool referred specifically to the game of life pool.:143&187
Although skittle pool is played on a pocketless carom billiards table, the term pool later stuck to all new games of pocket billiards as the sport gained in popularity in the United States,:186 and so outside the cue sports industry, which has long favored the more formal term pocket billiards, the common name for the sport has remained pool. The OxfordDictionaries.com definition no longer even provides the obsolete meaning found in the print edition, and refers only to the typical game "using two sets [each] of seven coloured and numbered balls ... with one black ball and a white cue ball" on a table with pockets.