Definition of echelon noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    echelon

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ˈeʃəlɒn//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈeʃəlɑːn//
     
     
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  1. 1[usually plural] a rank or position of authority in an organization or a society the lower/upper/top/higher echelons of the Civil Service
  2. 2an arrangement of soldiers, planes, etc. in which each one is behind and to the side of the one in front
  3. Word Origin late 18th cent. (in sense (2)): from French échelon, from échelle ‘ladder’, from Latin scala.Extra examples Corruption was increasingly a problem within the upper echelons. Even the lower echelons of the aristocracy usually owned some land. Power was concentrated in the higher echelons of the party.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: echelon