Definition of echelon in English:



  • 1A level or rank in an organization, a profession, or society.

    ‘the upper echelons of the business world’
    • ‘In practice, the pleasures and benefits of an improving culture could not be confined to society's upper echelons.’
    • ‘Further, this technology is not well known and therefore not fully exploited in the lower command echelons.’
    • ‘It is to be expected that the invasion and conquest of these tribes will have caused severe disruption to the upper echelons of society.’
    • ‘The upper echelons of American society are hopelessly corrupted and morally decayed.’
    • ‘Do you have what it takes to join the upper echelons of society?’
    • ‘Likewise, those lower echelons were completely confounded with her existence.’
    • ‘After independence, Creoles quickly replaced Spaniards in the upper echelons of the new society.’
    • ‘The media should be treated like family because they target the international community and keep higher echelons of command happy.’
    • ‘We must focus our attention to reach higher echelons by working hard with a joint effort.’
    • ‘They demand nothing less than equal access to the uppermost echelons of Catholicism.’
    • ‘He is not liked among the upper echelons of British society either.’
    • ‘The conspiracy extended to the uppermost echelons of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.’
    • ‘In this sense, as in many others, its 4,000 students mirror the upper echelons of French society.’
    • ‘Genuinely democratic consciousness has almost entirely disintegrated within the upper echelons of American society.’
    • ‘Many people assumed that I was masterminding a great shift at the top echelons of government.’
    • ‘And protracted booms promote the most aggressive and most bullish to the top echelons of power.’
    • ‘He had never said as much and he rarely spoke of his home and his family, but his behaviour, his manner of speech, suggested to her that he had been born into the upper echelons of society.’
    • ‘Buddhism made its first inroads into the upper echelons of Chinese society at this time, and many scholars met to discuss and compare the ideas of these two religions.’
    level, rank, grade, step, rung, tier, stratum, plane, position, order, division, sector
    View synonyms
  • 2Military
    A formation of troops, ships, aircraft, or vehicles in parallel rows with the end of each row projecting further than the one in front.

    • ‘From the phalanx to the legion, from the tercio to l' ordre mixte, from the panzer division to fronts in echelon, conventional warfare has featured coherent formations, each trying to break the other.’
    • ‘As each flight started on the downwind leg the ships reformed in an echelon to the right and completed before-landing checklists.’
    • ‘The platoon in reserve moves to the right, assuming the bottom position in the new fight echelon.’
    • ‘As planned, we moved the formation to starboard echelon and tried to re-enter for the break.’
    • ‘The plan was to take all four Hummers overhead the field for a diamond fly-by, then depart and re-enter as a division in starboard echelon for the break.’
    1. 2.1often with modifier A part of a military force differentiated by position in battle or by function.
      ‘the rear echelon’
      • ‘UA are the tactical warfighting echelons of the Objective Force and are similar to brigades and battalions.’
      • ‘Let us now consider in more detail defense operation in the tactical echelon.’
      • ‘The troops of the both echelons of the covering army remained in places of their permanent deployment; a small number of units and subunits were engaged in building fortifications close to the border.’
      • ‘The second echelon was comprised of an armored division and a corps army aviation brigade.’
      • ‘He was assigned to a section attached to the rear echelon of the Scots Guards.’
      • ‘Force Delta, which was the sea echelon of the second airborne battle group, left Germany on 26 July and closed on Beirut between 3 and 5 August.’
      • ‘The 21st and 70th armies of the front operated in the second echelon.’
      • ‘The marines' assault echelon had three hours to offload before tidefall threatened to beach their ships.’
      • ‘In some armies, tanks were attached to rifle divisions of not only the first but also the second echelon of the corps.’
      • ‘Medical personnel still accompany the infantrymen, artillerymen, and engineers, known as alpha echelon, who execute a parachute assault to conduct and support airfield seizure.’
      • ‘As part of the in-theater structure required to support the deploying force, ISB echelons must deploy early and primarily by air.’
      • ‘Unlike the defense of Stalingrad, the fronts had a two-echelon operational disposition of forces where tank armies for the first time formed the second echelon.’
      • ‘Restoring the corps echelon became an urgent necessity as early as the counteroffensive off Moscow.’
      • ‘Such facilities can be deployed in the strategic command and control echelons far from areas of combat operations.’
      • ‘For a project as large and complex as the Objective Force, every echelon needs a vision of what it must do, and these visions must be consistent across echelons.’


  • Arrange in an echelon formation.

    ‘the echeloning of fire teams’
    • ‘At the midway point, the First Marine Division was echeloned from Hungnam to the northwest along a mountain road to the Chosin Reservoir, an important hydroelectric plant.’
    • ‘The Seleucids echeloned their right cavalry wing forward to gain tactical advantage.’
    • ‘Reconnaissance efforts should be echeloned parallel to the supported unit.’
    • ‘A multi-tier fire delivery system is organized by echeloning the weapons assets on the slopes.’
    • ‘The brigade must echelon its assets to either provide observation of the enemy from acquisition to destruction, or to pass and receive targets indirectly from adjacent units as contact is lost.’


Late 18th century (in echelon (sense 2 of the noun)): from French échelon, from échelle ‘ladder’, from Latin scala.