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
  1. noun
    temporary living quarters specially built by the army for soldiers
    synonyms: camp, cantonment, encampment
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    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
  2. noun
    a site where people on holiday can pitch a tent
    synonyms: campground, camping area, camping ground, camping site, campsite, encampment
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    type of:
    land site, site
    the piece of land on which something is located (or is to be located)
  3. verb
    live in or as if in a tent
    synonyms: camp, camp out, encamp, tent
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    type of:
    dwell, inhabit, live, populate
    inhabit or live in; be an inhabitant of
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