Although you are undoubtedly familiar with the sound of the siren and the sight of the flashing lights of the ambulance, you may not necessarily know that the ambulance began as a walking hospital. The word "ambulance" indeed started off as a walking hospital, "un hôpital ambulant" in French, meaning literally "a walking hospital." The "hôpital ambulant" was devised during the campaigns of Napoleon to bring medical aid directly to his troops in the field. The original "hôpital ambulant" was a mobile unit designed to carry dressings and drugs to the wounded and evacuate the injured from the line of battle. The British, knowing a good idea when they saw it, came up with their own version of the "hôpital ambulant." But they economized by dropping the "hôpital" and corrupted "ambulant" to "ambulance." The French, of course, have for many years railed against the incursions of Anglo-Saxon words into the pure precincts of the French language. Nonetheless, they rejected their own "hôpital ambulant" and embraced the English "ambulance." So, in France today you can no longer see a hospital walking but "ambulances" are very much in evidence.
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A vehicle used to transport sick or injured persons to a treatment facility. [Fr., fr. (hôpital) ambulant, mobile hospital]

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am·bu·lance 'am-b(y)ə-lən(t)salso -.lan(t)s n a vehicle equipped for transporting the injured or sick

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am·bu·lance (amґbu-ləns) [Fr.] a vehicle for conveying the sick or injured and equipped with apparatus for rendering emergency treatment.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ambulance — [ ɑ̃bylɑ̃s ] n. f. • 1752; de ambulant 1 ♦ Anciennt (jusqu en 1940) Hôpital militaire ambulant; formation sanitaire équipée de voitures légères, chargée des premiers soins aux blessés. « Des ambulances qui étaient dirigées par des médecins… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ambulance — au Québec (Canada) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ambulance — Am bu*lance, n. [F. ambulance, h[^o]pital ambulant, fr. L. ambulare to walk. See {Amble}.] (Mil.) (a) A field hospital, so organized as to follow an army in its movements, and intended to succor the wounded as soon as possible. Often used… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ambulance — (n.) 1809, mobile or field hospital, from Fr. (hôpital) ambulant, lit. walking (hospital), from L. ambulantem (nom. ambulans), prp. of ambulare to walk (see AMBLE (Cf. amble)). The word was not common in English until the meaning transferred from …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ambulance — (fr., spr. Angbülangs), so v.w. Fliegendes Lazareth, s. u. Hospital, vgl. Sanitätscompagnie …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ambulance — (frz., –bülangs), das Feldlazareth im Kriege, hinter der Schlachtlinie, aufgestellt u. so eingerichtet, daß es möglichst schnell transportirt werden kann; es ist durch rothe Fahnen bezeichnet, damit der Feind es nicht absichtlich mit dem… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • ambulance — [n] emergency vehicle EMS, hospital wagon, rescue, transport; concept 505 …   New thesaurus

  • ambulance — ► NOUN ▪ a vehicle equipped for taking sick or injured people to and from hospital. ORIGIN French, from hôpital ambulant mobile field hospital , from Latin ambulare walk …   English terms dictionary

  • ambulance — [am′byə ləns, am′byo͞oləns] n. [Fr < ( hôpital) ambulant < prp. of L ambulare: see AMBLE] 1. Obs. a mobile field hospital 2. a specially equipped automobile or other vehicle for carrying the sick or wounded …   English World dictionary

  • Ambulance — For other uses, see Ambulance (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • ambulance — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ air, field, land ▪ He had to be flown by air ambulance to a Las Vegas hospital. ▪ emergency (esp. BrE) ▪ waiting …   Collocations dictionary

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