Definition of ambulance in English:

Share this entry

ambulance

Pronunciation: /ˈambyələns/

noun

A vehicle specially equipped for taking sick or injured people to and from the hospital, especially in emergencies.
Example sentences
  • Six to seven emergency vehicles and four ambulances are also provided.
  • An additional phase of the new development could incorporate other emergency services such as ambulances and coastguard.
  • We assume all duties which are carried out by our ambulance service are emergencies.

Origin

Early 19th century: French, from hôpital ambulant 'mobile (horse-drawn) field hospital', from Latin ambulant- 'walking' (see ambulant).

More
  • First used in the Crimean War, an ambulance was originally a mobile temporary hospital—a field hospital—that followed an army from place to place. The term was later applied to a wagon or cart used for carrying wounded soldiers off the battlefield, which in turn led to its modern meaning. Ambulance comes from the French hôpital ambulant, literally ‘walking hospital’: the root is Latin ambulare, ‘to walk’, which gave us words such as alley (Late Middle English), amble (Middle English), and early 17th-century ambulate (a formal way of saying ‘walk’). Ambulance chaser is a wry nickname for a lawyer. The first example of the term, from 1897, tells us that ‘In New York City there is a style of lawyers known to the profession as “ambulance chasers”, because they are on hand wherever there is a railway wreck, or a street-car collision…with…their offers of professional services.’

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: am·bu·lance

Share this entry
 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.