Definition of echelon
- geese flying in echelon
- served in a combat echelon
- involved employees at every echelon
- the upper echelons of management
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the lower echelons of the bureaucracy
We heard stories of corruption in the upper echelons of the firm.
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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.
First Known Use: 1796See Words from the same year
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