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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 bivouacked
  • You've never lived in a crowded barracks, cramped ship or bivouacked in the field or experienced the day-to-day military.
  • It led to the encampment area where troops bivouacked and lived.
  • The troops bivouacked in a field, intending to go on to the vicinity of the attacks next day.
  • The soldiers immediately bivouacked in place, throwing up rock forts as shelters.
  • We bivouacked at night in a swamp out of range of the enemy's guns.
  • The regiment bivouacked in a muddy corn-field and without fires suffered every discomfort imaginable.
British Dictionary definitions for bivouacked


/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 bivouacked



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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