• synonyms


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

Examples from the Web for patroller

Historical Examples

  • The master told John Arnold, the patroller chief, not to bother 'em.

    Slave Narratives, Oklahoma


  • His name was Buck Colbert and he claimed he was a patroller.

  • My mother had a brother Hobb and the patroller tried to whip him.

    Slave Narratives: Arkansas Narratives

    Work Projects Administration

  • They held council that night among the grass huts—the nine that were left after the unsuccessful attack on the patroller.

    The Devil's Asteroid

    Manly Wade Wellman

  • I stumbled among the others—that crowd you used to capture the patroller—and got a line on where you were.

    The Devil's Asteroid

    Manly Wade Wellman

British Dictionary definitions for patroller


  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 patroller



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