Etymology
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echelon (n.)

1796, echellon, "step-like arrangement of troops," from French échelon "level, echelon," literally "rung of a ladder," from Old French eschelon, from eschiele "ladder," from Late Latin scala "stair, slope," from Latin scalae (plural) "ladder, steps," from PIE *skand- "to spring, leap" (see scan (v.)). Sense of "level, subdivision" is from World War I.

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Definitions of echelon

echelon (n.)
status in a society or organization;
the upper echelon
echelon (n.)
a body of troops arranged in a line;
echelon (n.)
a diffraction grating consisting of a pile of plates of equal thickness arranged stepwise with a constant offset;
From wordnet.princeton.edu