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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bylet, from Anglo-Norman billette (list, schedule), from bille +‎ -ette, from Latin bulla (document).


billet (plural billets)

  1. A short informal letter.
  2. A written order to quarter soldiers.

Etymology 2[edit]

Middle French billette (schedule), from bullette, diminutive form of bulle (document), from Medieval Latin bulla, hence cognate with etymology 1 above.


billet (plural billets)

  1. A place where a soldier is assigned to lodge.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 19, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Nothing was too small to receive attention, if a supervising eye could suggest improvements likely to conduce to the common welfare. Mr. Gordon Burnage, for instance, personally visited dust-bins and back premises, accompanied by a sort of village bailiff, going his round like a commanding officer doing billets.
    • 1997, Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 9 (Totem Books, Icon Books; →ISBN
      17 June 1940: Prime Minister Pétain requests armistice. Germans use the Foucaults’ holiday home as officers’ billet. Foucault steals firewood for school from collaborationist militia. Foucault does well at school, but messes up his summer exams in 1940.
  2. An allocated space or berth in a boat or ship.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 10, in The Celebrity:
      The skipper Mr. Cooke had hired at Far Harbor was a God-fearing man with a luke warm interest in his new billet and employer, and had only been prevailed upon to take charge of the yacht after the offer of an emolument equal to half a year's sea pay of an ensign in the navy.
  3. (figuratively) Berth; position.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Pall Mall Magazine
      His shafts of satire fly straight to their billet, and there they rankle.


billet (third-person singular simple present billets, present participle billeting or billetting, simple past and past participle billeted or billetted)

  1. (transitive, of a householder etc.) To lodge soldiers, or guests, usually by order.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Washington Irving
      Billeted in so antiquated a mansion.
    • 1965, Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and other Writings
      Destroy, with entire unpity, raze to the ground, those detestable houses where you billet the progeny of the libertinage of the poor, appalling cloacas, wherefrom there every day spews forth into society a swarm of new-made creatures []
  2. (intransitive, of a soldier) To lodge, or be quartered, in a private house.
  3. (transitive) To direct, by a ticket or note, where to lodge.

Etymology 3[edit]

Old French billette, from bille (log, tree trunk), from Vulgar Latin *bilia, probably of Gaulish origin (compare Old Irish bile (tree)).


billet (plural billets)

  1. (metallurgy) A semi-finished length of metal.
  2. A short piece of wood, especially one used as firewood.
  3. (heraldry) A rectangle used as a charge on an escutcheon.
  4. (architecture) An ornament in Norman work, resembling a billet of wood, either square or round.
  5. (saddlery) A strap that enters a buckle.
  6. A loop that receives the end of a buckled strap.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)




From French billet.


billet c (singular definite billetten, plural indefinite billetter)

  1. ticket (admission to entertainment, pass for transportation)




From Old French billette, from Latin bulla. See French boulette.


  • IPA(key): /bi.jɛ/
  • (file)


billet m (plural billets)

  1. ticket
  2. note, banknote

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]