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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowing from French bivouac, formerly biouac, bivac, from Alemannic German beiwacht, biwacht (a patrol of citizens added to in time of alarm or commotion to the regular town watch), from bi, bei (by) + *wacht (watch, guard), from Middle High German wachte, from Old High German *wahta (guard, watch), from Proto-Germanic *wahtwō (guard, watch), from Proto-Indo-European *weǵ- (to be awake, be fresh, be cheerful). Compare German Beiwache (a keeping watch), German Wacht (guard). More at by, watch, wait.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɪv.u.æk/, /ˈbɪv.wæk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æk


bivouac (plural bivouacs)

  1. An encampment for the night, usually without tents or covering.
  2. Any temporary encampment.
    • 2005, Boston Globe, September 23, 2005
      The outing begins by Thursday noon, when the recreational vehicles start rumbling into town and their owners set up bivouacs.
  3. (dated) The watch of a whole army by night, when in danger of surprise or attack.



bivouac (third-person singular simple present bivouacs or bivouacks, present participle bivouacking, simple past and past participle bivouacked)

  1. To set up camp.
    We'll bivouac here tonight.
  2. To watch at night or be on guard, as a whole army.
  3. To encamp for the night without tents or covering.