[ 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), biv·ou·acked, biv·ou·ack·ing.

to rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.

Origin of bivouac

1700–10; < French < Swiss German bīwacht auxiliary patrol, equivalent to bī- by- + wacht patrol, watch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bivouac

British Dictionary definitions for bivouac


/ (ˈbɪvʊˌæk, ˈbɪvwæk) /


a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc

verb -acs, -acking or -acked

(intr) to make such an encampment

Word Origin for bivouac

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper