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

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Other Words from epaulet

epauletted \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈle-​təd How to pronounce epauletted (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 British ship engineers wear purple stripes on their epaulets. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, "Thirty-six Thousand Feet," 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, "Happy 5th birthday, Princess Charlotte! Palace releases new photos of Will and Kate's daughter," 1 May 2020 Its various elements — the lapels, epaulets, belt — were misplaced and reworked. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Designers are in love with trench coats now. They probably bear no resemblance to the ones in your closet.," 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, "Lt. Col. Vindman’s uniform spoke loud. His humanity spoke louder.," 19 Nov. 2019 Earlier in his tenure, Bradshaw wore an epaulet on each shoulder, with five stars on each. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, "Most Florida sheriffs wear four stars on their collars. Why does Broward’s Gregory Tony wear five?," 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, "How To Wear a Men’s Trench Without Looking Corny," 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, "Transcript: Anna Fifield talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 19 June 2019 Just throw on this jacket, with awesome dropped shoulders, biker epaulet detail, and asymmetric zips. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "The Item I Wear to Death: My ASOS Oversized Leather Jacket," 6 Mar. 2019

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.

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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

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The first known use of epaulet was in 1778

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Cite this Entry

“Epaulet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epaulet. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for epaulet


How to pronounce epaulet (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of epaulet

: a decorative piece on the shoulder of a uniform

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More from Merriam-Webster on epaulet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with epaulet

Spanish Central: Translation of epaulet

Nglish: Translation of epaulet for Spanish Speakers

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