Word of the Day : November 3, 2016


noun ESH-uh-lahn


1 : a steplike arrangement (as of troops or airplanes)

2 a : one of a series of levels or grades in an organization or field of activity

b : a group of individuals at a particular level or grade in an organization

Did You Know?

Echelon is a useful word for anyone who is climbing the ladder of success. It traces back to scala, a Late Latin word meaning "ladder" that was the ancestor of the Old French eschelon, meaning "rung of a ladder." Over time, the French word (which is échelon in Modern French) came to mean "step," "grade," or "level." When it was first borrowed into English in the 18th century, echelon referred specifically to a steplike arrangement of troops, but it now usually refers to a level or category within an organization or group of people.


"And I think that … there are more conservatives in Hollywood than one would think in all echelons, even among the actors." — Jon Voight, speaking on the Fox News Network, 9 Sept. 2016

"There were those in the upper echelons of network news who caught a bit of that altitude sickness and thought it was their job to massage the news on behalf of a greater good only they could see." — Dalton Delan, The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), 23 Sept. 2016

Word Family Quiz

Fill in the blanks to create a noun derived from Latin scala that refers to the act of scaling the walls of a fortification: e _ ca _ a _ e.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!