Definition of gendarme in US English:



  • 1An armed police officer in France and other French-speaking countries.

    • ‘Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.’
    • ‘The gentry gritted their teeth and stoically endured the offense, hands hovering over their cell phones ready to summon the gendarmes should the intruder decide to prolong his incursion long enough to constitute a public nuisance.’
    • ‘I try to memorise this argument in case I meet a gendarme during my subsequent meandering around the lanes.’
    • ‘We wouldn't have been surprised to get a visit from the local gendarme about suspicious behaviour in the area.’
    • ‘The gendarme shouted in French, ‘Drop your weapons!’’
    • ‘With more than 20 world leaders arriving in Normandy at a time of high terror threat, France deployed fighter jets, surface-to-air missiles and 15,000 gendarmes and soldiers for security.’
    • ‘It was also common to see the jeeps of the island's French gendarmes (military police) speeding by on the road loaded down with confiscated marijuana plants in the back.’
    • ‘The police obviously marked me down as a criminal because next time I was at a French auction I was surrounded by gun-toting gendarmes who arrested me again.’
    • ‘The men were interned after barely escaping a full-dress skirmish with the local gendarmes.’
    • ‘On the other side, the land army, army intelligence units, and the corps of gendarmes oppose such reforms, which they find excessively constraining.’
    • ‘There were three gendarmes in plain clothes, a little pumped up with the adrenaline of the occasion.’
    • ‘This legitimation also drew on the attachment of hundreds of thousands of rural people to whom the state offered employment, depending on social background, as administrators, teachers, gendarmes, road and rail workers.’
    • ‘Pale French gendarmes, seemingly plucked straight from Paris point duty, look lost directing the coconut trees.’
    • ‘Anticipating trouble, in June the French Government dispatched 300 gendarmes to Tahiti to ensure that law and order were maintained.’
    • ‘Since they operate from post-office ‘drop’ boxes, the crooks simply empty the boxes regularly, and are on their way before local gendarmes can get their acts together.’
    • ‘But some early baseball caps sat up, blocky, like what tops the crowns of French gendarmes.’
    • ‘There are several police forces, including internal security police, gendarmes, and military police.’
    • ‘Another car bomb exploded near a gendarme patrol, leaving 6 policemen dead and 45 persons wounded.’
    • ‘Similar media gendarmes are on patrol over the airwaves.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, Prussia had the fewest gendarmes per head of population of any German state in 1848: in that year Berlin had only 120 gendarmes and 40 city police for a population of 400,000.’
  • 2A rock pinnacle on a mountain, occupying and blocking an arête.


Mid 16th century (originally denoting a mounted officer in the French army): French, from gens d'armes ‘men of arms’. gendarme (sense 1) dates from the late 18th century.