• synonyms


[en-fuh-leyd, -lahd, en-fuh-leyd, -lahd]
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  1. Military.
    1. a position of works, troops, etc., making them subject to a sweeping fire from along the length of a line of troops, a trench, a battery, etc.
    2. the fire thus directed.
  2. Architecture.
    1. an axial arrangement of doorways connecting a suite of rooms with a vista down the whole length of the suite.
    2. an axial arrangement of mirrors on opposite sides of a room so as to give an effect of an infinitely long vista.
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verb (used with object), en·fi·lad·ed, en·fi·lad·ing.
  1. Military. to attack with an enfilade.
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Origin of enfilade

1695–1705; < French, equivalent to enfil(er) to thread, string (en- en-1 + -filer, derivative of fil < Latin fīlum thread) + -ade -ade1
Related formsun·en·fi·lad·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for enfilade

shower, salvo, hail, fusillade, bombardment, storm, volley, blast, gunfire, burst, firing, crossfire, shooting, thunder, artillery, barrage, detonation, comb, scour, scrape

Examples from the Web for enfilade

Historical Examples of enfilade

  • If successful, it was to enfilade the Wylie kopjes from that position.

    Story of the War in South Africa

    Captain A. T. Mahan, U.S.N.

  • Half front your line that way so as not to let them enfilade you.

    Marion's Faith.

    Charles King

  • It assists in protecting from enfilade, and affords a plunging fire.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • From Caribou Ridge the Turks could enfilade parts of our firing-line.

  • A machine gun of the Canterbury Regiment was posted to enfilade them.

British Dictionary definitions for enfilade


  1. a position or formation subject to fire from a flank along the length of its front
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verb (tr)
  1. to subject (a position or formation) to fire from a flank
  2. to position (troops or guns) so as to be able to fire at a flank
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Word Origin for enfilade

C18: from French: suite, from enfiler to thread on string, from fil thread
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 enfilade


1706, from French enfilade, from Old French enfiler (13c.) "to thread (a needle) on a string, pierce from end to end," from en- "put on" (see en- (1)) + fil "thread" (see file (v.)).

Used of rows of apartments and lines of trees before modern military sense came to predominate. As a verb from 1706. Related: Enfiladed; enfilading.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper