or ep·au·lette

[ep-uh-let, -lit, ep-uh-let]


an ornamental shoulder piece worn on uniforms, chiefly by military officers.

Origin of epaulet

1775–85; < French épaulette, equivalent to épaule shoulder (< Latin spatula blade; see spatula) + -ette -ette
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for epaulette

Historical Examples of epaulette

  • It is not here, nor now, that I am going to tell why I wear the epaulette no longer.

  • Wellmere fired, and the bullion flew from the epaulette of the trooper.

    The Spy

    J. Fenimore Cooper

  • I think they say, sir, she's gone to Colonel Epaulette's lodge.


    John O'Keeffe

  • The ball struck the epaulette on his left shoulder, and penetrated his chest.

  • Their attitude varied in accordance with the number of stars they had on their epaulette.

    Fighting France

    Stephane Lauzanne

British Dictionary definitions for epaulette


US epaulet


a piece of ornamental material on the shoulder of a garment, esp a military uniform

Word Origin for epaulette

C18: from French épaulette, from épaule shoulder, from Latin spatula shoulder blade; see spatula
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 epaulette



1783, from French épaulette (16c.), diminutive of épaule "shoulder," from Old French espaule (12c.), from Latin spatula "flat piece of wood, splint," later "shoulder blade," diminutive of spatha "broad wooden instrument, broad sword," from Greek spathe "a broad flat sword" (see spade (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper