en passant

[ ahn pa-sahnt; French ahn pah-sahn ]
/ ˌɑn pæˈsɑnt; French ɑ̃ pɑˈsɑ̃ /


(italics) French. in passing; by the way.
Chess. (used when a pawn that has moved two squares is captured by an opponent's pawn commanding the square that was passed.)

Nearby words

  1. en famille,
  2. en fête,
  3. en garde,
  4. en masse,
  5. en papillote,
  6. en pension,
  7. en plein,
  8. en plein air,
  9. en prise,
  10. en quad

Origin of en passant

First recorded in 1655–65

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for en passant

en passant

/ (ɒn pæˈsɑːnt, French ɑ̃ pasɑ̃) /


in passing: in chess, said of capturing a pawn that has made an initial move of two squares to its fourth rank, bypassing the square where an enemy pawn on its own fifth rank could capture it. The capture is made as if the captured pawn had moved one square instead of two

Word Origin for en passant

C17: from French

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 en passant

en passant

French, literally "in passing," from present participle of passer "to pass" (see pass (v.)). In reference to chess, first attested 1818.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper