One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A defence made of felled trees placed lengthwise over each other with the boughs pointing outwards.
- ‘There were still labourers out there, struggling to manoeuvre an abatis into position.’
- ‘They were built as a system of separate fortresses, abatis lines, and on forested terrain, tree blowdowns.’
- ‘Union soldiers completed digging a series of ditches that zigzagged forward and reached the abatis.’
- ‘It was a combination of towers, palisades, ditches, abatis, and caltrops to slow the attacking Gauls.’
Mid 18th century: from French, literally ‘felled (trees)’, from Old French abatre ‘to fell’ (see abate).
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