View synonyms for echelon


[ esh-uh-lon ]


  1. a level of command, authority, or rank:

    After years of service, she is now in the upper echelon of city officials.

    Synonyms: standing, class, position, rung, tier, row, office, grade, authority, hierarchy, rank, place

  2. a level of worthiness, achievement, or reputation:

    studying hard to get into one of the top echelon colleges.

    Synonyms: tier, position, degree

  3. Military. a formation of troops, ships, airplanes, etc., in which groups of soldiers or individual vehicles or craft are arranged in parallel lines, either with each line extending to the right of the one in front right echelon or with each line extending to the left of the one in front left echelon, so that the whole presents the appearance of steps.
  4. Military. one of the groups of a formation so arranged.
  5. Archaic. any structure or group of structures arranged in a steplike form.
  6. Also called echelon grating. Spectroscopy. a diffraction grating that is used in the resolution of fine structure lines and consists of a series of plates of equal thickness stacked in staircase fashion.

verb (used with or without object)

  1. to form in an echelon.


/ ˈɛʃəˌlɒn /


  1. a level of command, responsibility, etc (esp in the phrase the upper echelons )
  2. military
    1. a formation in which units follow one another but are offset sufficiently to allow each unit a line of fire ahead
    2. a group formed in this way
  3. physics a type of diffraction grating used in spectroscopy consisting of a series of plates of equal thickness arranged stepwise with a constant offset


  1. to assemble in echelon
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Other Words From

  • ech·e·lon·ment noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of echelon1

First recorded in 1790–1800; from French échelon, originally “rung of a ladder,” from Old French eschelon, equivalent to esch(i)ele “ladder” (from Latin scāla + -on noun suffix; scale 3 )
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Word History and Origins

Origin of echelon1

C18: from French échelon, literally: rung of a ladder, from Old French eschiele ladder, from Latin scāla; see scale ³
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Example Sentences

Baron has worked in the upper echelons of newsrooms throughout his career.

Arguably, the more truly premium stuff that gets produced by Hollywood for streaming — in other words, the more these services represent the higher echelon of Hollywood — the better it is for us.

From Digiday

The industry commonly recycles ideas, and designers from its lowest ranks to its upper echelons look to the past for tomorrow’s concepts.

From Quartz

At the upper echelons of the sport, where every move counts, there’s pressure on athletes to do all they can to make themselves stronger, while also getting smaller and lighter.

The highest echelon of TikTokers can charge up to $200,000 per post, but those who have follower counts in the range of 1 million to 5 million typically charge between $5,000 and $15,000.

From Vox

Are you allowed to write about battle from the rear echelon?

The film is going to be a huge critical and commercial hit, vaulting Stoller into the upper echelon of Hollywood comedy directors.

Mississippi also moves out of the lower echelon solidly improving to 41st from 46th on its rock-bottom costs.

To Connolly and Morris, Bulger was a TE, or top-echelon informant, the highest designation in the Bureau for a snitch.

But as part of that top echelon of defense officials, Diskin participated in almost all the meetings where Iran was discussed.

They did a lazy circle of the room, swung into an echelon and performed a slow chandelle, before dropping into Bobby's hand.

I couldn't quite see the stratified society outlined by Scholar Phelps as holding a position open for her in the top echelon.

The cuirassiers getting into line first, charged at once, the 16th following in echelon.

Portions of his forces were arranged in echelon in some of his other battles.

I ordered him to wheel his brigades to the left, to advance in echelon, and to catch the enemy in flank.