hors de combat

adverb or adjective

hors de com·​bat ˌȯr-də-kōⁿ-ˈbä How to pronounce hors de combat (audio)
: out of combat : disabled

Did you know?

We picked up hors de combat directly from French back in the mid-18th century. Benjamin Franklin put the term to use in a 1776 letter, observing that an "arrow sticking in any part of a man puts him hors du [sic] combat till it is extracted." But you don't have to use the word as literally as Franklin did. Combat can refer to any fight or contest, not just fighting in a war. A politician who's out of the running in a political race could be declared "hors de combat," for example. But the adjective (or adverb) need not refer only to humans or animals: if you own a car, chances are your vehicle has been hors de combat at least once.

Examples of hors de combat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Both are expected to remain hors de combat when the Flyers visit the Bruins on Thursday … The Blackhawks, in Boston Saturday night, lost top defenseman Seth Jones to a thumb injury at the end of October. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 Some of this is because Charlie McAvoy has remained hors de combat following offseason shoulder surgery. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Nov. 2022 The core principle of humane warfare is that fighters may kill one another at any time, excepting those who are rendered hors de combat, and must avoid targeting civilians. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, 14 Dec. 2020 Joakim Nordstrom and defensemen Kevan Miller and John Moore are hors de combat. BostonGlobe.com, 4 Oct. 2019 Among the missing bodies against the Caps were Patrice Bergeron (new to the hors de combat list), Jake DeBrusk, and Torey Krug (placed on the IR on Saturday). BostonGlobe.com, 16 Nov. 2019 Based on what Cassidy told NESN postgame, the 33-year-old Krejci likely went hors de combat because of a cross-check to his right arm by the Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf. BostonGlobe.com, 16 Oct. 2019 In just two weeks the likes of Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Sam Darnold, Darnold’s backup Trevor Siemian, Nick Foles and possibly Cam Newton have been rendered hors de combat. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, 18 Sep. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hors de combat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1757, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hors de combat was in 1757


Dictionary Entries Near hors de combat

Cite this Entry

“Hors de combat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hors%20de%20combat. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

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