hors de combat

adverb or adjective
hors de com·​bat | \ ˌȯr-də-kōⁿ-ˈbä How to pronounce hors de combat (audio) \

Definition of hors de combat

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

See More

First Known Use of hors de combat

1757, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hors de combat


Learn More About hors de combat

Time Traveler for hors de combat

Time Traveler

The first known use of hors de combat was in 1757

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About hors de combat

Dictionary Entries Near hors de combat

hors d'oeuvre

hors de combat


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for hors de combat

Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hors de combat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hors%20de%20combat. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!