• synonyms


[biv-oo-ak, biv-wak]
See more synonyms for bivouac on Thesaurus.com
  1. a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire.
  2. the place used for such an encampment.
Show More
verb (used without object), biv·ou·acked, biv·ou·ack·ing.
  1. to rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.
Show More

Origin of bivouac

1700–10; < French < Swiss German bīwacht auxiliary patrol, equivalent to bī- by- + wacht patrol, watch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for bivouac

Historical Examples

  • Ascended a red-topped peak close to our bivouac and got a view ahead.

    Explorations in Australia

    John Forrest

  • Continuing westerly for about ten miles, we reached the water, our bivouac on the 22nd.

  • On a day late in October our company were in bivouac after some hard night-riding.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • The occupants of this bivouac had turned in, and the lights had been doused.

    Captain Brand of the "Centipede"

    H. A. (Henry Augustus) Wise

  • The bivouac was in the neighborhood of the Ground Squirrel bridge.

British Dictionary definitions for bivouac


  1. a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc
Show More
verb -acs, -acking or -acked
  1. (intr) to make such an encampment
Show More

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

Word Origin and History for bivouac


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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper