Word of the Day : December 13, 2016

hors de combat

adverb or adjective or-duh-kohng-BAH


: 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.


The quarterback suffered a concussion in last week's game that put him hors de combat until cleared to play by the team's doctor.

"'Tis the season of software upgrades and updates. Yesterday the Windows machine took it into its head to update itself without so much as asking permission. The PC was hors de combat for an hour or so." — Terry Lane, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Oct. 2016

Test Your Memory

What former Word of the Day is the name for a wooden shoe or a dealing box for playing cards?



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