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[biv-oo-ak, biv-wak] /ˈbɪv uˌæk, ˈbɪv wæk/
a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire.
the place used for such an encampment.
verb (used without object), bivouacked, bivouacking.
to rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.
Origin of bivouac
Swiss German
1700-10; < French < Swiss German bīwacht auxiliary patrol, equivalent to bī- by- + wacht patrol, watch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bivouac
  • News media outlets erected a broadcasting bivouac amid the red bricks and river birches at the city's government plaza.
  • There the bees bivouac while a small percentage of them go searching for new real estate.
  • His living room has the poised-for-departure air of a boho bivouac.
  • Much of their climbing was done in winter so they knew how to winter climb, how to survive the cold, how to bivouac in winter.
  • Let's look at some great additions to any outdoors-geek's arsenal, and some toys to help introduce kids to the art of the bivouac.
  • He could bivouac upstairs, set out all his toilet articles in the guest bath.
  • Permits are not required for mountaineering, but climbers on overnight trips must have a backcountry permit to camp or bivouac.
  • Even on short trips, carry proper gear and food for an unplanned bivouac.
  • The airport provided bivouac areas for the majority of soldiers and airmen providing security and relief services.
  • bivouac usage occurs when the need arises, months of usage vary.
British Dictionary definitions for bivouac


/ˈbɪvʊˌæk; ˈbɪvwæk/
a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc
verb -acs, -acking, -acked
(intransitive) to make such an encampment
Word Origin
C18: from French bivuac, probably from Swiss German Beiwacht, literally: by + watch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bivouac

1702, from French bivouac (17c.), ultimately from Swiss/Alsatian biwacht "night guard," from bei- "double, additional" + wacht "guard" (see wait (v.)). Original meaning was an army that stayed up on night watch; sense of "outdoor camp" is 1853. Not a common word in English before the Napoleonic Wars. Italian bivacco is from French. As a verb, 1809, "to post troops in the night;" meaning "camp out of doors" is from 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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