Word of the Day : September 18, 2019


verb BIV-uh-wak

What It Means

1 : to make a usually temporary encampment under little or no shelter : camp

2 : to take shelter often temporarily

3 : to provide temporary quarters for


The search party bivouacked under a nearby ledge until the storm passed.

"Isakson said Native American artifacts were found on the site, along with plenty of evidence to suggest Union soldiers had bivouacked there after the Civil War." — Lawrence Specker, The Huntsville (Alabama) Times, 17 Mar. 2019

Did You Know?

In the 1841 edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster observed bivouac to be a French borrowing having military origins. He defined the noun bivouac as "the guard or watch of a whole army, as in cases of great danger of surprise or attack" and the verb as "to watch or be on guard, as a whole army." The French word is derived from the Low German word biwacht, a combination of bi ("by") and wacht ("guard"). In some German dialects, the word was used specifically for a patrol of citizens who assisted the town watch at night. Today, bivouac has less to do with guarding and patrolling and more about having shelter.

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a verb that means "to assign lodging to (someone, such as solider) by official order": b _ l _ _ t.



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