verb (used with or without object)
Origin of echelon
Ironically, while echelon entered English in a military context, it was the first and second World Wars that extended the meaning to other, nonmilitary, sectors. During World War I, the term took on a more generalized sense of a “level” or “subdivision”; World War II broadened echelon’s usage to describe grades and ranks in professions outside the military.
At the same time, English speakers started using echelon to classify institutions or persons they held in high esteem by referring to them as part of the “upper” or “top” echelon. With this in mind, the phrase “social climber” conjures up the image of people who wish to ascend through the various ladder rungs of society until they reach the top.
—Row echelon form: In linear algebra, a simplified form of a matrix in which each non-zero row has more leading zeros than the previous row.
—ECHELON: Code name of a global surveillance system developed by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). It operates by intercepting and processing international communications transmitted via communications satellites.
—Third Echelon: A fictional sub-group of the NSA created by Tom Clancy in his Splinter Cell book series.
- "Beyond [the city] were the suburban homes of laborers and low-echelon executives who had carved brass-knuckled niches for themselves in the medium-income bracket."-Irving E. Cox, Jr. The Cartels Jungle (1955)
- "If a CEO wavers and shows signs of not being confident of which way he wants to go, it sends shudders from the top echelon all the way down the mountain."-D. A. Benton How to think like a CEO (2000)
- "[I]t is a monstrous leap from what [a master] can do to what the elite grandmasters (the Fischers and the Karpovs and the Kasparovs) can do, which is why even the top echelon of players often maintain a base of humility beneath their bluster."-Michael Weinreb Game of Kings: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team (2007)
- "By echelon we mean a formation in which the subdivisions are placed one behind another, extending beyond and unmasking one another either wholly or in part."-James Alfred Moss Manual of Military Training (1914)
- "[T]hey echeloned to the right around the hill, and the 1st Platoon fired into their flank for ten to fifteen minutes; however, they never slacked or broke formation."-William T. Bowers The Line: Combat In Korea, January–February 1951, Volume 1 (2008)
Examples from the Web for echelon
The view may look bright at the top GOP echelon, but that does not appear to be the attitude of the rank and file.
The echelon below were 18-year-old Olders, overseeing Babies and Tinies as young as 10 in the final rung.
I think Tina is the first woman who has gotten into that echelon.
By placing the squadrons of horse and the light batteries in echelon, the retiring column may be well protected.
But at one hundred feet aloft the fliers braked their headlong flight, hovered motionlessly in echelon formation.Slaves of Mercury|Nat Schachner
The echelon order possesses in general very great advantages.
Arrayed line beyond line in echelon, ten thousand pinions beat, in unison—beat in short, sharp strokes from the elbow.Unexplored Spain|Abel Chapman
The phalanx moved forward slowly, and slowly went into an echelon formation, each division slightly ahead of the one following.Adaptation|Dallas McCord Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for echelon
- a formation in which units follow one another but are offset sufficiently to allow each unit a line of fire ahead
- a group formed in this way
Word Origin for echelon
Word Origin and History for echelon
1796, "step-like arrangement of troops," from French échelon "level, echelon," literally "rung of a ladder," from Old French eschelon, from eschiele "ladder," from Late Latin scala "stair, slope," from Latin scalae (plural) "ladder, steps," from PIE *skand- "to spring, leap" (see scan). Sense of "level, subdivision" is from World War I.