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

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 The author, Eugène Briffault, was a journalist, gastronome, editor and critic who frequented the upper echelons of French society in the mid-19th century, a time of prosperity, indulgence and refinement. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "A Glimpse Into Parisian Dining Life," 25 June 2018 Over the next few years, that case ballooned into Brazil’s biggest-ever corruption scandal, ensnaring members of all major political parties as well as the upper echelons of the business world. Samantha Pearson And Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, "Brazil’s New Leader Picks Anticorruption Judge as Justice Minister," 1 Nov. 2018 That joins the upper echelon of expensive TV shows like, Game of Thrones and Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings show. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know So Far About Star Wars "The Mandalorian"," 5 Oct. 2018 In the upper echelons of regional governments, however, few are laughing as Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, face what may be the most serious threat to the kingdom’s power and stability in a generation. Souad Mekhennet, The Seattle Times, "Nations fear fallout could trigger instability in the region," 23 Oct. 2018 For Munion, the potential for evolution lies not in the upper echelons at Burning Man Org’s San Francisco corporate office, but in the intensely connected Burner community. Bridget Read, Vogue, "At Burning Man, #MeToo Is More Complicated Than You Think," 28 Aug. 2018 If your goal is to convince the world to forget that you have been credibly accused of doing terrible things, and to find a way to once again work in the uppermost echelons of Hollywood, then Gibson is an admirable role model. Constance Grady, Vox, "Mel Gibson has set the blueprint for a #MeToo comeback. Expect other men to follow it.," 24 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

21 Mar 2019

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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