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[biv-oo-ak, biv-wak] /ˈbɪv uˌæk, ˈbɪv wæk/
a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire.
the place used for such an encampment.
verb (used without object), bivouacked, bivouacking.
to rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.
Origin of bivouac
Swiss German
1700-10; < French < Swiss German bīwacht auxiliary patrol, equivalent to bī- by- + wacht patrol, watch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bivouacking
Historical Examples
  • During this day they contented themselves with bivouacking there on the beach at the harbour.

    Anabasis Xenophon
  • While bivouacking on the Hiawasse, a citizen named Trotter, came into camp.

    The Citizen-Soldier John Beatty
  • I am writing this in the woods, where we are bivouacking for the night.

    The Citizen-Soldier John Beatty
  • The fifth company was bivouacking at the very edge of the forest.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
  • For he learned that they were bivouacking on the Nile to see the sunrise.

    The Wave Algernon Blackwood
  • The troops who had been bivouacking there had departed for the exigencies of combat.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • Since January 11, a period of more than six weeks, the troops had been continuously fighting and bivouacking.

    London to Ladysmith via Pretoria Winston Spencer Churchill
  • bivouacking in this manner was more or less of an ordinary circumstance in Ungava Bob's life.

    The Gaunt Gray Wolf Dillon Wallace
  • The streets were empty, but for the bivouacking troops and the never-ending procession of wounded men.

    The Invasion

    William Le Queux
  • We began to think of halting for the night and bivouacking under the lee of some thicket.

British Dictionary definitions for bivouacking


/ˈbɪvʊˌæk; ˈbɪvwæk/
a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc
verb -acs, -acking, -acked
(intransitive) to make such an encampment
Word Origin
C18: from French bivuac, probably from Swiss German Beiwacht, literally: by + watch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bivouacking



1702, from French bivouac (17c.), ultimately from Swiss/Alsatian biwacht "night guard," from bei- "double, additional" + wacht "guard" (see wait (v.)). Original meaning was an army that stayed up on night watch; sense of "outdoor camp" is 1853. Not a common word in English before the Napoleonic Wars. Italian bivacco is from French. As a verb, 1809, "to post troops in the night;" meaning "camp out of doors" is from 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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