If you ever draped a blanket over bushes or lawn chairs in the backyard and pretended to bunk down under it when you were a kid, you’ve made a bivouac — a temporary, makeshift camp with little or no cover.

Bivouac comes from the 18th-century German word biwacht, and originally meant a patrol of ordinary citizens who helped the town’s night watchmen. Nowadays, you’ll most often see it used as a noun, but it can be a verb too — and it's often associated with soldiers, though that’s not essential. If you tend to sleepwalk, you might not want to bivouac at the edge of that cliff; make your bivouac in the meadow instead.

Definitions of bivouac

n temporary living quarters specially built by the army for soldiers

camp, cantonment, encampment
boot camp
camp for training military recruits
an encampment of huts (chiefly military)
laager, lager
a camp defended by a circular formation of wagons
Type of:
military quarters
living quarters for personnel on a military post

n a site where people on holiday can pitch a tent

campground, camping area, camping ground, camping site, campsite, encampment
Type of:
land site, site
the piece of land on which something is located (or is to be located)

v live in or as if in a tent

camp, camp out, encamp, tent
Type of:
dwell, inhabit, live, populate
inhabit or live in; be an inhabitant of

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.