To place in echelon; to station divisions of troops in echelon.

1. An arrangement of a body of troops when its divisions are drawn up in parallel lines each to the right or the left of the one in advance of it, like the steps of a ladder in position for climbing. Also used adjectively; as, echelon distance.

2. <astronomy> An arrangement of a fleet in a wedge or form.

<optics> Echelon lens, a large lens constructed in several parts or layers, extending in a succession of annular rings beyond the central lens; used in lighthouses.

Origin: F, fr. Echelle ladder, fr. L. Scala.

(01 Mar 1998)

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