[am-byuh-luh ns]


a specially equipped motor vehicle, airplane, ship, etc., for carrying sick or injured people, usually to a hospital.
(formerly) a field hospital.

Origin of ambulance

1800–10; < French, equivalent to (hôpital) ambul(ant) walking (hospital) + -ance -ance. See ambulant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for ambulance

transport, rescue, EMS

Examples from the Web for ambulance

Contemporary Examples of ambulance

Historical Examples of ambulance

  • He has joined an ambulance corps that is going to the Front.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • Scarcely a night went by without its patrol or ambulance case.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • He was a surgeon-major, and was wearing the ambulance badge on his sleeve.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • It was Christmas-eve, and I had decorated the ambulance with festoons of green leaves.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • On returning to the ambulance I met one of my friends at the door.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for ambulance



a motor vehicle designed to carry sick or injured people

Word Origin for ambulance

C19: from French, based on (hôpital) ambulant mobile or field (hospital), from Latin ambulāre to walk
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

Word Origin and History for ambulance

1798, "mobile or field hospital," from French (hôpital) ambulant, literally "walking (hospital)," from Latin ambulantem (nominative ambulans), present participle of ambulare "to walk" (see amble).

AMBULANCE, s. f. a moveable hospital. These were houses constructed in a manner so as to be taken to pieces, and carried from place to place, according to the movements of the army; and served as receptacles in which the sick and wounded men might be received and attended. ["Lexicographica-Neologica Gallica" (The Neological French Dictionary), William Dupré, London, 1801]

The word was not common in English until the meaning transferred from "field hospital" to "vehicle for conveying wounded from field" (1854) during the Crimean War. In late 19c. U.S. the word was used dialectally to mean "prairie wagon." Ambulance-chaser as a contemptuous term for a type of lawyer dates from 1897.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ambulance in Medicine




A specially equipped vehicle used to transport the sick or injured.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.