UK:*UK and possibly other pronunciationsUK and possibly other pronunciations/ˈɛʃəlɒn/US:USA pronunciation: IPA and respellingUSA pronuncation: IPA/ˈɛʃəˌlɑn/ ,USA pronunciation: respelling(eshə lon′)

WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2020
ech•e•lon /ˈɛʃəˌlɑn/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. a level of command, authority, or rank:the upper echelons of the administration.
  2. Militarya steplike formation, as of troops, ships, or planes.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
ech•e•lon  (eshə lon′),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. a level of command, authority, or rank:the top echelon of city officials.
  2. Militarya formation of troops, ships, airplanes, etc., in which groups of soldiers or individual vehicles or craft are arranged in parallel lines, each to the right or left of the one in front, so that the whole presents the appearance of steps.
  3. Militaryone of the groups of a formation so arranged.
  4. Optics, PhysicsAlso called  echelon grat′ing. Spectroscopy. a diffraction grating that is used in the resolution of fine structure lines and consists of a series of plates of equal thickness stacked in staircase fashion.

v.t., v.i. 
  1. to form in an echelon.
eche•lon′ment, n. 
  • Latin scāla; see scale3) + -on noun, nominal suffix
  • French échelon, origin, originally rung of a ladder, Old French eschelon, equivalent. to esch(i)ele ladder (
  • 1790–1800
    • 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged grade, position, rating.

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
echelon /ˈɛʃəˌlɒn/ n
  1. a level of command, responsibility, etc (esp in the phrase the upper echelons)
  2. a formation in which units follow one another but are offset sufficiently to allow each unit a line of fire ahead
  3. a group formed in this way
  1. to assemble in echelon
Etymology: 18th Century: from French échelon, literally: rung of a ladder, from Old French eschiele ladder, from Latin scāla; see scale³
'echelon' also found in these entries:

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