am·​bus·​cade | \ ˈam-bə-ˌskād How to pronounce ambuscade (audio) , ˌam-bə-ˈskād \

Definition of ambuscade

: ambush

Other Words from ambuscade

ambuscade verb
ambuscader noun

Synonyms for ambuscade


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The synonym ambush is older by a century, but English made room for ambuscade in the late 16th century anyway. That word was borrowed into English from Middle French, whose speakers had raided Old Italian to get it: the French had made embuscade from imboscata, which was from imboscare, “to place in ambush.” The boscare part of that word is ultimately of Germanic origin, from bosco, meaning “forest.” Evidence of ambush functioning as a verb can be found as far back as the dawn of the 14th century. It arrived not from Middle French (French as spoken in the 14th-16th centuries), but from Anglo-French, the French spoken in medieval England. Its second syllable is from Old French busc, meaning “forest, grove.”

Examples of ambuscade in a Sentence

warned by one of their scouts of an Apache ambuscade, the Comanches took a different path through the mountains

First Known Use of ambuscade

circa 1588, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ambuscade

borrowed from Middle French emboscade, embuscade, borrowed from Italian imboscata, from imboscare "to hide in a forest or behind vegetation" (from im- im- + -boscare, derivative of bosco "forest," going back —perhaps via Langobardic— to Germanic *boska-/*buska- "bush, thicket") + -ata, suffix of action and result — more at bush entry 1, -ade

Note: For the initial am- in place of em- see note at ambush entry 1.

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The first known use of ambuscade was circa 1588

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Cite this Entry

“Ambuscade.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ambuscade

Britannica English: Translation of ambuscade for Arabic Speakers


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