8 Wintry Words to Defrost Your Vocabulary


[zhahn-dahrm; French zhahn-darm] /ˈʒɑn dɑrm; French ʒɑ̃ˈdarm/
noun, plural gendarmes
[zhahn-dahrmz; French zhahn-darm] /ˈʒɑn dɑrmz; French ʒɑ̃ˈdarm/ (Show IPA)
a police officer in any of several European countries, especially a French police officer.
a soldier, especially in France, serving in an army group acting as armed police with authority over civilians.
(formerly) a cavalryman in charge of a French cavalry squad.
1540-50; < Middle French, earlier gens d'armes, alteration of gent d'armes people at arms Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for gendarmes
  • He came to our little town as next in command of a company of gendarmes-mounted frontier police.
  • The gendarmes were polite, the traders were honest, priests were pious.
  • The cycling gendarmes have never been able to police the present.
  • If the minister jets off to meet firefighters or gendarmes, she not only plans the trip but is on the plane.
  • Barely a week goes by without him being photographed with a smiling collection of police or gendarmes.
  • Finally, the dog takes refuge in its doghouse, while the gendarmes surround the place.
  • Corpses strew the ground, sinister leers are thick as the skulls of the gendarmes.
  • The thoroughfare was kept clear by pickets, dragoons, and mounted gendarmes.
  • For more than a week they had been living in an armed camp of several thousand gendarmes.
  • gendarmes also mistakenly searched the house of one of the imam's neighbors.
British Dictionary definitions for gendarmes


/ˈʒɒndɑːm; French ʒɑ̃darm/
a member of the police force in France or in countries formerly influenced or controlled by France
a slang word for a policeman
a sharp pinnacle of rock on a mountain ridge, esp in the Alps
Word Origin
C16: from French, from gens d'armes people of arms
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 gendarmes



1540s, "mounted trooper," from French contraction (14c.) of gens d'armes "men at arms," later applied to military police (1796 in English). Gens is plural of gent "nation, people," from Latin gentem (nominative gens) "race, nation, people" (see genus). Related: Gendarmerie. French also had gens de (la) robe "lawyers," sometimes borrowed in English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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