Student Dictionary

One entry found for ambulance.
Main Entry: am·bu·lance
Pronunciation: primarystressam-byschwa-lschwan(t)s
Function: noun
Etymology: from French ambulance "field hospital," from (hôpital) ambulant, literally "traveling hospital," derived from Latin ambulare "to walk" --related to AMBLE
: a vehicle that is equipped for transporting the injured or the sick
Word History When the term ambulance first came into use, it did not refer to a vehicle. To meet the urgent needs of the wounded during war, the French about 200 years ago set up temporary movable hospitals close to the battlefields. They called such a hospital hôpital ambulant, meaning literally "walking hospital." The French adjective ambulant can be traced back to the Latin verb ambulare, meaning "to walk." In time the French dropped the word hôpital from the phrase and changed the adjective to the noun ambulance. This word was also later applied to the wagon used for transporting the wounded to the field hospital. Before long, the word ambulance came to be used for civilian temporary hospitals set up during emergencies and also for the vehicles used to take the sick and injured to the hospital. English borrowed the word from French to refer to such vehicles.

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