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See more synonyms for patrol on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), pa·trolled, pa·trol·ling.
  1. (of a police officer, soldier, etc.) to pass along a road, beat, etc., or around or through a specified area in order to maintain order and security.
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verb (used with object), pa·trolled, pa·trol·ling.
  1. to maintain the order and security of (a road, beat, area, etc.) by passing along or through it.
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  1. a person or group of persons assigned to patrol an area, road, etc.
  2. an automobile, ship, plane, squadron, fleet, etc., assigned to patrol an area.
  3. Military. a detachment of two or more persons, often a squad or platoon, detailed for reconnaissance or combat.
  4. the act of patrolling.
  5. patrol wagon.
  6. (in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) a subdivision of a troop, usually consisting of about eight members.
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Origin of patrol

1655–65; < French patrouille (noun), patrouiller (v.) patrol, originally a pawing (noun), to paw (v.) in mud; derivative (with suffixal -ouille) of patte paw; -r- unexplained
Related formspa·trol·ler, nounre·pa·trol, verb (used with object), re·pa·trolled, re·pa·trol·ling.un·pa·trolled, adjectivewell-pa·trolled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for patrol

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Scarcely a night went by without its patrol or ambulance case.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The men in the canoe were surely keen of eye, and they must be a patrol.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • I set off with all speed, and when I arrived there was a Prussian patrol at the cottage.

  • Possibly, after all, the man was merely a patrol from some outlying station.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • I'll tell you what you might do, Chance: you might patrol the roads on the edge of town.

    Sure Pop and the Safety Scouts

    Roy Rutherford Bailey

British Dictionary definitions for patrol


  1. the action of going through or around a town, neighbourhood, etc, at regular intervals for purposes of security or observation
  2. a person or group that carries out such an action
  3. a military detachment with the mission of security, gathering information, or combat with enemy forces
  4. a division of a troop of Scouts or Guides
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verb -trols, -trolling or -trolled
  1. to engage in a patrol of (a place)
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Derived Formspatroller, noun

Word Origin

C17: from French patrouiller, from patouiller to flounder in mud, from patte paw
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 patrol


1660s, "action of going the rounds" (of a military camp, etc.), from French patrouille "a night watch" (1530s), from patrouiller "go the rounds to watch or guard," originally "tramp through the mud," probably soldiers' slang, from Old French patouiller "paddle in water," probably from pate "paw, foot" (see patten). Compare paddlefoot, World War II U.S. Army slang for "infantry soldier." Meaning "those who go on a patrol" is from 1660s. Sense of "detachment of soldiers sent out to scout the countryside, the enemy, etc." is attested from 1702.

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1690s, from patrol (n.) and in part from French patrouiller. Related: Patrolled; patrolling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper