echelon

noun
ech·​e·​lon | \ ˈe-shə-ˌlän How to pronounce echelon (audio) \

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

So wait a minute, charges that there are corruption and a culture of silence at the very upper echelons of the church, that is a rabbit hole, that affects victims today and victims to come? Fox News, "Ingraham: Far-left billionaires uniting to remake America," 29 Aug. 2018 The raid startled rear-echelon troops as starved Japanese raided medical tents and killed the wounded. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "Thousands of Japanese fought in a bloody World War II battle for the Aleutians. Only 28 survived.," 24 May 2018 Malpass, 62, has straddled the top echelons of government and Wall Street, having worked in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and as the chief economist for the defunct bank Bear Stearns. Darlene Superville, The Seattle Times, "Trump to tap David Malpass, critic of World Bank, to lead it," 6 Feb. 2019 The wave of changes began with the firing June 26 of Gen. Abdelghani Hamel, head of the General Directorate of National Security, the top echelon of Algeria's police. Aomar Ouali And Elaine Ganley, Fox News, "Algerian generals, others fired without explanation," 12 Sep. 2018 All 65,000 fans stayed to the very end, savoring their return to the league’s upper echelon. Steve Kornacki, BostonGlobe.com, "What if Tom Brady had never stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001?," 12 Apr. 2018 While there is a culture of paying one’s way into an upper echelon school that is quite pervasive, the Varsity Blues bribery scheme explicitly sought to find spaces for the children in exchange for money, via Singer as conduit. Tyler Kingkade, Town & Country, "How the College Admissions Scandal Is Different From the Other Ways Rich Parents Help Their Kids Get Into School," 13 Mar. 2019 Following the detonation of several nuclear devices, members of society’s upper echelon are sent to live in a small bunker with a select few who claim their job is to keep everybody safe. Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "In 2018, Horror Movies Are the Most Comforting Things I Watch," 19 Nov. 2018 At a time when the left barely registers in the top echelons of European power, the most important contest shaping the continent’s direction is a struggle between competing visions on the right. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "As Merkel teeters, Austria’s Kurz seizes the moment as Europe’s ‘rock star of the new right’," 27 June 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

16 May 2019

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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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