Maginot line

[mazh-uh-noh; French ma-zhee-noh]


a zone of heavy defensive fortifications erected by France along its eastern border in the years preceding World War II, but outflanked in 1940 when the German army attacked through Belgium.
any elaborate line of defense or set of barriers.

Origin of Maginot line

1925–30; after André Maginot (1877–1932), French minister of war Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for maginot line

Maginot line


a line of fortifications built by France to defend its border with Germany prior to World War II; it proved ineffective against the German invasion
any line of defence in which blind confidence is placed

Word Origin for Maginot line

named after André Maginot (1877–1932), French minister of war when the fortifications were begun in 1929
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 maginot line

Maginot Line

fortifications built along the north and east borders of France before World War II, in which the French placed unreasonable confidence, named for André Maginot (1877-1932), French Minister of War in late 1920s, early 1930s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for maginot line

Maginot line

[(mazh-uh-noh, maj-uh-noh)]

A chain of defensive fortifications built by France on its eastern border between World War I and World War II. The Maginot line was designed to stop any future invasion by Germany, but it was never completed. In World War II, the Germans conquered France by going around the Maginot line to the north.


The expression Maginot mentality refers to any military strategy that is exclusively defensive and therefore flawed. It also refers to military planning that is aimed at the past. This way of thinking is sometimes referred to as “fighting the last war.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.