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[puh-trohl] /pəˈtroʊl/
verb (used without object), patrolled, patrolling.
(of a police officer, soldier, etc.) to pass along a road, beat, etc., or around or through a specified area in order to maintain order and security.
verb (used with object), patrolled, patrolling.
to maintain the order and security of (a road, beat, area, etc.) by passing along or through it.
a person or group of persons assigned to patrol an area, road, etc.
an automobile, ship, plane, squadron, fleet, etc., assigned to patrol an area.
Military. a detachment of two or more persons, often a squad or platoon, detailed for reconnaissance or combat.
the act of patrolling.
(in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) a subdivision of a troop, usually consisting of about eight members.
Origin of patrol
1655-65; < French patrouille (noun), patrouiller (v.) patrol, originally a pawing (noun), to paw (v.) in mud; derivative (with suffixal -ouille) of patte paw; -r- unexplained
Related forms
patroller, noun
repatrol, verb (used with object), repatrolled, repatrolling.
unpatrolled, adjective
well-patrolled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for patrolling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • While the minister preached, the men took turns in patrolling the building and watching the horses.

    Peggy Owen and Liberty Lucy Foster Madison
  • I have been patrolling this road since noon to-day waiting for you.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • When feed was meager there were days of scrambling up rocky stretches, and nights of patrolling the fold.

    The Story of Wool Sara Ware Bassett
  • Thus only can she hope to escape Tardivet's men that are patrolling the road from France.

    The Trampling of the Lilies Rafael Sabatini
  • Because the Danube River forms the greater share of the controlled borders, much of the patrolling is done by boat.

    Area Handbook for Romania Eugene K. Keefe, Donald W. Bernier, Lyle E. Brenneman, William Giloane, James M. Moore, and Neda A. Walpole
British Dictionary definitions for patrolling


the action of going through or around a town, neighbourhood, etc, at regular intervals for purposes of security or observation
a person or group that carries out such an action
a military detachment with the mission of security, gathering information, or combat with enemy forces
a division of a troop of Scouts or Guides
verb -trols, -trolling, -trolled
to engage in a patrol of (a place)
Derived Forms
patroller, noun
Word Origin
C17: from French patrouiller, from patouiller to flounder in mud, from patte paw
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 patrolling



1660s, "action of going the rounds" (of a military camp, etc.), from French patrouille "a night watch" (1530s), from patrouiller "go the rounds to watch or guard," originally "tramp through the mud," probably soldiers' slang, from Old French patouiller "paddle in water," probably from pate "paw, foot" (see patten). Compare paddlefoot, World War II U.S. Army slang for "infantry soldier." Meaning "those who go on a patrol" is from 1660s. Sense of "detachment of soldiers sent out to scout the countryside, the enemy, etc." is attested from 1702.


1690s, from patrol (n.) and in part from French patrouiller. Related: Patrolled; patrolling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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