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[bruh-vet, brev-it] /brəˈvɛt, ˈbrɛv ɪt/
a commission promoting a military officer to a higher rank without increase of pay and with limited exercise of the higher rank, often granted as an honor immediately before retirement.
verb (used with object), brevetted, brevetting or breveted, breveting.
to appoint, promote, or honor by brevet.
1325-75; Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French brievet. See brief, -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for brevets


a document entitling a commissioned officer to hold temporarily a higher military rank without the appropriate pay and allowances
verb -vets, -vetting, -vetted, -vets, -veting, -veted
(transitive) to promote by brevet
Derived Forms
brevetcy, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French brievet a little letter, from brief letter; see brief
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for brevets



mid-14c., from Old French brievet "letter, note, piece of paper; papal indulgence" (13c.), diminutive of bref "letter, note" (see brief (adj.)). Army sense is from 1680s.


1839, from French breveter, from brevet (see brevet (n.)). Related: Breveted; breveting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for brevets


form of military commission formerly used in the U.S. and British armies. Under the system in which an officer was customarily promoted within his regiment or corps, a brevet conferred upon him a rank in the army at large higher than that held in his corps. Frequently it carried with it the pay, right to command, and uniform of the higher grade. In the United States especially, brevet rank was widely bestowed as a reward for outstanding service; it became the subject of extensive confusion and controversy during the American Civil War. After 1865, U.S. brevet rank was gradually stripped of its benefits, and officers were rewarded instead by decorations. Commission by brevet was declared obsolete in 1922. Special commissions bearing some of the characteristics of the brevet have been used in other armies.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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