Echelon (noun, verb)
1. a level of command, authority, or rank: After years of service, she is now in the upper echelon of city officials.
2. a level of worthiness, achievement, or reputation: studying hard to get into one of the top echelon colleges.
3. Military. a formation of troops, ships, airplanes, etc., in which groups of soldiers or individual vehicles or craft are arranged in parallel lines, either with each line extending to the right of the one in front (right echelon) or with each line extending to the left of the one in front (left echelon) so that the whole presents the appearance of steps.
4. Military. one of the groups of a formation so arranged.
5. Archaic. any structure or group of structures arranged in a steplike form.
6. Also called echelon grating. Spectroscopy. a diffraction grating that is used in the resolution of fine structure lines and consists of a series of plates of equal thickness stacked in staircase fashion.
verb (used with or without object)
7. to form in an echelon.
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. place, rank, hierarchy, authority, grade, office; row, tier, rung; social standing, position, class, standing.
2. degree, position, tier.
Origin: 1790-1800; < French échelon, orig. rung of a ladder, Old French eschelon, equivalent to esch(i)ele ladder (< Latin scāla; see scale3) + -on noun suffix
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