ep·​au·​let | \ ˌe-pə-ˈlet; 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 , 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

Several brands, including Los Angeles’s Monitaly, London’s Dunhill and Paris’s De Bonne Facture, have shorn off the pointless shoulder epaulets (originally designed to display military ranking insignia), for a sleeker look. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "How To Wear a Men’s Trench Without Looking Corny," 16 Oct. 2018 His two daughters will pin epaulets on his shoulders, and John Jumper, a retired Air Force general and chairman of the Museum of the American Revolution, will administer the officer’s oath. Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times, "At 98, the Army Just Made Him an Officer: A Tale of Racial Bias in World War II," 29 June 2018 There are the epaulets Hamilton wore after receiving a promotion. John Kelly, Washington Post, "His name was ‘Alexander Hamilton.’ New exhibits recount his words and deeds.," 27 June 2018 Most mannequins were outfitted in supple (and seriously expensive) deerskin loafers; raincoats also came with deerskin epaulets (actual rain be damned). Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "In Our Sweatshirted Times, These Brands Are Going All In on Extreme Luxury," 18 June 2018 Dressed in a blue frock coat and epaulets with three stars on the shoulders, a black slouch hat and carrying a cigar, the Kenosha man looks like the general who led Union troops to victory and became America's 18th president. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Sheboygan County community remembers its Civil War dead 150 years after it erected memorial," 28 May 2018 None has any money—or any epaulets, in the case of one questionable officer. Dan Hofstadter, WSJ, "Longing, Violence and Social Rank," 25 May 2018 The pièce de résistance: a veritable chandelier of crystal strands across her neckline, which also accented her shoulders as epaulets and draped down her back. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Salma Hayek Brings The Bling to The Oscars Red Carpet," 5 Mar. 2018 The uniforms had epaulets, braids, the whole nine yards. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "When Nixon went Euro, &c.," 15 Feb. 2018

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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Time Traveler for epaulet

The first known use of epaulet was in 1778

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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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