Definition of reconnoitre in English:


(US reconnoiter)


  • Make a military observation of (a region)

    ‘they reconnoitred the beach some weeks before the landing’
    and → recon
    [no object] ‘the raiders were reconnoitring for further attacks’
    • ‘The crossing had to be carefully reconnoitred and the landing place chosen with care.’
    • ‘Routes and security must be clearly defined, reconnoitered, and rehearsed.’
    • ‘In autumn 1809 he reconnoitred the area between Lisbon, Torres Vedras, the Atlantic coast, and the river Tagus accompanied by Col Richard Fletcher, his chief engineer.’
    • ‘Specifically, the team was to reconnoiter potential helicopter landing zones, determine the level of enemy activity, and observe possible cave sites.’
    • ‘Special Forces reconnoitered the jungle, looking for U.N. forces being held hostage as part of Cobra Gold 2002 exercises.’
    • ‘The group was tasked to parachute behind enemy lines, infiltrate into the town, reconnoiter the objective, select the place to kill the mayor, and then execute actions on the objective.’
    • ‘Early in the war Allied planners realized the value of scouts for reconnoitering enemy-held beaches.’
    • ‘At a high point between two grey hills, they stopped and reconnoitered.’
    • ‘March 25th, 1945 saw members reconnoitering the beaches at the southwest tip of Tokashika Shima, a dangerous job as the landing beach was in a cove surrounded by easily defensible high ground.’
    • ‘These scouts can reconnoiter routes, conduct screening missions, and escort convoys because they do not need extra equipment, additional troops, or special training.’
    • ‘They reconnoitred and calmly informed control what was needed.’
    • ‘These flights gave the pilots an opportunity to study the terrain, note landmarks on their maps, and reconnoiter routes to and from the front lines.’
    • ‘On 21 August 1914, a squadron of 120 cavalrymen belonging to the 4th Dragoon Guards were sent forward to reconnoitre the land ahead of the advancing British Expeditionary Force.’
    • ‘For all any Union unit on the hills around Gettysburg knew, or any cavalry unit like this one out reconnoitering knew, the battle might go on for days more.’
    • ‘This results in wasted effort as infantry battalion scouts conduct time-consuming reconnaissance of areas and routes already reconnoitered by recce troops.’
    • ‘The Confederacy's greatest soldier, General Stonewall Jackson, was shot dead by his own troops as he returned to his lines after reconnoitring Union positions during the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.’
    • ‘After interrogation it was discovered that their mission had been to reconnoitre the base for an attack within 72 hours.’
    • ‘If so, perhaps they were reconnoitering the nation's capital prior to an attack.’
    • ‘Soldiers and officers of the XI Corps had responsibly reconnoitered their front and flank, had seen the Confederates forming, and had tried to warn the new XI Corps commander General O.O. Howard, but to no avail.’
    • ‘They reconnoitred for surface fleets, and helped to guard Russian convoys.’
    • ‘The naval commander, chosen for his aggressiveness, was new to Lake Champlain, knew nothing of its winds, and failed to reconnoiter the American position.’
    survey, make a reconnaissance of, explore, make a survey of, make an observation of
    find out the lie of the land, see how the land lies
    investigate, examine, spy out, scrutinize, scan, inspect, observe, take a look at, take stock of
    recce, make a recce of, case, case the joint, check out
    take a shufti round, suss out
    View synonyms


  • An act of reconnoitring.

    ‘a nocturnal reconnoitre of the camp’
    • ‘From their reconnoitres of the base, they knew that meant the coast was clear.’
    • ‘A further reconnoitre involved canoeing the perimeter of Loch Morlich to check out the possibilities.’
    • ‘If accosted on a reconnoitre, they claimed they were looking for scrap.’
    • ‘He foisted the box of worthless gadgets back onto Katie then did a quick reconnoitre of their current position.’
    • ‘A quick reconnoitre seems the best idea before finding somewhere to eat.’
    • ‘Once he declared the aircraft safe, I completed a final reconnoitre of the site to 50m out from the wreckage.’


Early 18th century: from obsolete French reconnoître, from Latin recognoscere know again (see recognize).