echelon

noun
ech·​e·​lon | \ˈe-shə-ˌlän \

Definition of echelon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : an arrangement of a body of troops with its units each somewhat to the left or right of the one in the rear like a series of steps

(2) : a formation of units or individuals resembling such an echelon geese flying in echelon

(3) : a flight formation in which each airplane flies at a certain elevation above or below and at a certain distance behind and to the right or left of the airplane ahead

b : any of several military units in echelon formation also : any unit or group acting in a disciplined or organized manner served in a combat echelon

2a : one of a series of levels or grades in an organization or field of activity involved employees at every echelon

b : a group of individuals at a particular level or grade in an organization or field of activity the upper echelons of management

echelon

verb
echeloned; echeloning; echelons

Definition of echelon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to form or arrange in an echelon

intransitive verb

: to take position in an echelon

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Did You Know?

Noun

Echelon is a useful word for anyone who is climbing the ladder of success. It traces back to scala, a Late Latin word meaning "ladder" that was the ancestor of the Old French eschelon, meaning "rung of a ladder." Over time, the French word (which is échelon in Modern French) came to mean "step," "grade," or "level." When it was first borrowed into English in the 18th century, echelon referred specifically to a steplike arrangement of troops, but it now usually refers to a level or category within an organization or group of people.

Examples of echelon in a Sentence

Noun

the lower echelons of the bureaucracy We heard stories of corruption in the upper echelons of the firm.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The bold personalities meshed for a hysterical conversation as Nardwuar showered the Bronx native with gifts weaved into his upper-echelon interviewing skills. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Cardi B Meets Nardwuar For Hilarious Interview: Watch," 16 Apr. 2018 Gigi's current rank in that echelon is thanks to appearances in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition and V and VMan. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Model Moment: Gigi Hadid," 4 Apr. 2014 Then of course, there are others, which exist in the upper echelons of beauty. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, "6 Things I Learned From Natural Skin-Care Legend Tata Harper," 25 Sep. 2018 The complaints have come from the upper echelons of the GOP, including top aides to [Trump]. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Five times Anthony Kennedy was the fifth vote shows the significance of his retirement," 28 June 2018 The complaints have come from the upper echelons of the GOP, including top aides to President Donald Trump, arguably the world's most prominent Twitter user. Tony Romm, chicagotribune.com, "Inside Facebook and Twitter's secret meetings with Trump aides and conservative leaders," 27 June 2018 Hope still remains among some that Leonard can return to lift the Spurs to the upper echelon in the West for the playoffs. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "Kawhi Leonard Injury Timeline: How Did the Spurs Get to This Point?," 19 Apr. 2018 The reason people buy Nikes is it’s about elite excellence can bring you to the highest echelons of performance and recognition. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Silicon Valley’s Saudi money crisis illustrates a decline of ‘moral leadership’ in America," 19 Oct. 2018 And despite widespread awareness of his behavior, McCarrick advanced to the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "A Catholic cardinal has weathered sex abuse allegations for years. Now they’re finally public," 29 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'echelon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of echelon

Noun

1796, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

circa 1860, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for echelon

Noun

French échelon, literally, rung of a ladder, from Old French eschelon, from eschele ladder, from Late Latin scala

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Dictionary Entries near echelon

echelette

Echelidae

echelle

echelon

echelonment

echeneid

Echeneis

Statistics for echelon

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for echelon

The first known use of echelon was in 1796

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More Definitions for echelon

echelon

noun

English Language Learners Definition of echelon

: a level in an organization : a level of authority or responsibility

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More from Merriam-Webster on echelon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with echelon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for echelon

Spanish Central: Translation of echelon

Nglish: Translation of echelon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of echelon for Arabic Speakers

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