AskDefine | Define patrol

Dictionary Definition



1 a detachment used for security or reconnaissance
2 the activity of going around or through an area at regular intervals for security purposes
3 a group that goes through a region at regular intervals for the purpose of security v : maintain the security of by carrying out a control [syn: police] [also: patrolling, patrolled]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. patrouiller, patrouiller to paddle, paw about, patrol, from patte a paw.
  2. patrouille, patouille.


  • (UK) /pəˈtɹəʊl/
  • (US) /pəˈtɹoʊl/


patrol (plural: patrols)
  1. A going of the rounds along the chain of sentinels and between the posts, by a guard, usually consisting of three or four men, to insure greater security from attacks on the outposts.
  2. A movement, by a small body of troops beyond the line of outposts, to explore the country and gain intelligence of the enemy's whereabouts.
  3. The guard or men who go the rounds for observation; a detachment whose duty it is to patrol.
  4. Any perambulation of a particular line or district to guard it; also, the men thus guarding; as, a customs patrol; a fire patrol.
    In France there is an army of patrols to secure her fiscal regulations. -A. Hamilton.


  • Dutch: patrouille
  • French: patrouille
  • German: Patrouille
  • Hebrew:
  • Spanish: patrulla
  • Swedish: patrull


  1. To go the rounds along a chain of sentinels; to traverse a police district or beat.
  2. To go the rounds of, as a sentry, guard, or policeman; as, to patrol a frontier; to patrol a beat.


to patrol
  • Italian: pattugliare
  • Spanish: patrullar

Extensive Definition

In military tactics, a patrol is a small tactical grouping sent out by land, sea or air to perform a specific task. A patrol may be a reconnaissance patrol, sent to investigate some feature of interest, or a fighting patrol (US combat patrol), sent to find and engage the enemy.
A patrol is also a small cavalry or armoured unit, subordinate to a troop or platoon. A patrol usually comprises a section or squad of mounted troopers, or two AFVs (often tanks).
In law enforcement, patrol officers are uniformed police officers assigned to patrol specified geographic areas. They are the officers most commonly encountered by the public, as their duties include responding to calls for service, making arrests, resolving disputes, taking crime reports, and conducting traffic enforcement, and other crime prevention measures. The patrol officer is the first on the scene to arrive. What they do or fail to do at the scene greatly influences the outcome of an investigation. The patrol officer, as the person daily in the field, is closest to potential crime and has probably developed contacts who can provide information.
Some elementary schools use the term patrol to refer to students who are selected to monitor safety in the classroom or to those students who assist crossing guards with safety of children crossing busy streets. Another common term for this use of patrol is hall monitor.
In Surf Lifesaving, volunteer patrol units monitor the beaches during the summer. In Australia and some other countries, the patrolled area is marked by red and yellow flags.
In Scouting, a patrol is six to eight children under the leadership of one of them, the basic unit of the Scout movement. The Patrol method is an essential characteristic of Scouting by which it differs from all other organizations, using the natural dynamics of the gang for an educational purpose.


The word "patrol" came from French patrouiller = "to patrol"; earlier it meant "to paddle in the mud", perhaps via men repeatedly patrolling along the same unpaved path until it turned to mud.
patrol in German: Streifendienst
patrol in Italian: Pattuglia
patrol in Polish: Zastęp
patrol in Swedish: patrull

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Argus, Charley, airplane spotter, beat, course, cover, defend, defending, do, fire patrolman, fire warden, fireguard, forward observer, go over, guard, guarding, keep guard, keep vigil, keep watch, lookout, lookout man, measure, mount guard, night watchman, overpass, pass over, pass through, patroller, patrolman, perambulate, peregrinate, pererrate, picket, ply, police, protect, protecting, protection, range, range over, reconnoiter, rounds, roundsman, safeguarding, scour, scour the country, scout, sentinel, sentry, spotter, stand guard, stand sentinel, sweep, track, transit, travel over, travel through, traverse, vedette, vigilance, voyage, watch, watch over, watcher, watchfulness, watchkeeper, watchman
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