ep·​au·​let | \ ˌe-pə-ˈlet How to pronounce epaulet (audio) ; ˈe-pə-ˌlet, -lət \
variants: or less commonly epaulette

Definition of epaulet

: something that ornaments or protects the shoulder: such as
a : an ornamental fringed shoulder pad formerly worn as part of a military uniform
b : an ornamental strip or loop sewn across the shoulder of a dress or coat

Illustration of epaulet

Illustration of epaulet

E epaulet

Other Words from epaulet

epauletted \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈle-​təd How to pronounce epaulet (audio) , ˈe-​pə-​ˌle-​ \ adjective

Epaulet Has French and Latin Roots

The epaulet gets its name from what it covers - the shoulder. It comes from the French word épaulette, the diminutive of "épaule," meaning shoulder. (Another accepted spelling of the English word - "epaulette" - mirrors the French.) "Épaule" itself, though, comes from the Latin word spatha, meaning "spoon" or "sword." This Latin word (which traces back to Greek spathē, meaning "blade of a sword" or "oar") is also the root of the word spade - as in the playing card suit. (The digging implement "spade" is also a relative though the connection is less direct.)

Examples of epaulet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Hosting duties are handled by epaulet owning martinet and editor in chief Tony Quiroga. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, 30 June 2022 British ship engineers wear purple stripes on their epaulets. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, 10 May 2020 The pictures show Charlotte, dressed in grey tights and a checkered smock dress with floppy epaulets, carrying bags of groceries, placing them in boxes and standing at someone's door ready to deliver. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 1 May 2020 Its various elements — the lapels, epaulets, belt — were misplaced and reworked. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2020 But the impact of what the witness wore didn’t come solely from the golden epaulets and shiny buttons and medals. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2019 Earlier in his tenure, Bradshaw wore an epaulet on each shoulder, with five stars on each. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, 14 Oct. 2019 Outlier, a New York brand, makes perhaps the most minimal trench of the bunch—an epaulet-free, belt-free coat that swaps buttons for snaps. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 16 Oct. 2018 On his eighth birthday, he was presented with a general's uniform, complete with gold buttons and epaulets and things. CBS News, 19 June 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of epaulet

1778, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for epaulet

French épaulette, diminutive of épaule shoulder, from Old French espalle, from Late Latin spatula shoulder blade, spoon, diminutive of Latin spatha spoon, sword — more at spade

Learn More About epaulet

Time Traveler for epaulet

Time Traveler

The first known use of epaulet was in 1778

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About epaulet

Dictionary Entries Near epaulet



epaulet fish

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for epaulet

Cite this Entry

“Epaulet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epaulet. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on epaulet

Nglish: Translation of epaulet for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!