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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Glacis \Gla"cis\, n. [F. glacis; -- so named from its smoothness. See Glacier.] A gentle slope, or a smooth, gently sloping bank; especially (Fort.), that slope of earth which inclines from the covered way toward the exterior ground or country (see Illust. of Ravelin).

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"sloping bank" (especially leading up to a fortification), 1670s, from French glacir "to freeze, make slippery," from Old French glacier "to slip, glide," from Vulgar Latin *glaciare "to make or turn into ice," from glacies (see glacial).


n. 1 (context military English) A gentle incline in front of a fortification. 2 (context military English) The angled armour plate on the front of a tank; glacis plate. 3 (context geomorphology English) An erosional or depositional landform, with little slope. 4 (context postal service English) A device for sorting mail which slides parcels across a sloped surface.


A glacis (; ) in military engineering is an artificial slope as part of a medieval castle or in early modern fortresses. They may be constructed of earth as a temporary structure or of stone in more permanent structure.

A glacis plate is the sloped front-most section of the hull of a tank or other armored fighting vehicle.

More generally, the term glacis can denote any slope, natural or artificial, which fulfils the above requirements. The etymology of this French word suggests a slope made dangerous with ice, hence the relationship with glacier.

Glacis (disambiguation)

Glacis may refer to:

  • Glacis (geomorphology), an erosional or depositional plane landform, with little slope. Erosional glacis occur mostly in arid regions, and result from intense weathering and surface transport via laminar, episodic water flow.
  • Glacis, in military engineering is an artificial slope as part of a medieval castle or in early modern fortresses.
  • Glacis, Seychelles, the district in Seychelles

Usage examples of "glacis".

I was surprised to find that, at a distance of less than an eighth of a mile from the latter place, the military had fixed their gabions, sapped right up the glacis, and to within four or five yards of the fosse.

The ditch between the glacis and the ravelin was black with men, disorganized men, the mingling of the Fourth and Light Divisions.

Fourth Division and the South Essex, but the ditch was a massive sink of death, of weird shadows cast by the fires, and he could make out no faces in the packed crowd that was filling the space between the ravelin and glacis.

Gled valley, and took a right-hand turning which zigzagged up the containing ridge and came out on a wide benty moor, once the best black-game country in Scotland, which formed the glacis of the chief range of the hills.

They lunched at the Glenmoriston Hotel, talking happily about a variety of subjects while they ate smoked salmon flan, steak and kidney pie, and followed these with pears stuffed with marrons glacis and covered with a brandy flavoured cream.

Durrance sat himself down upon the parapet of the wall above the glacis, while the pigeons wheeled and circled overhead, thinking of the long months during which Tewfik must daily have strained his eyes from this very spot toward the pass over the hills from Suakin, looking as that other general far to the south had done, for the sunlight flashing on the weapons of the help which did not come.

The building still smoked, showing where the fires had been, and now it filled with cheering British, intent on loot, and Sharpe stopped at the glacis lip ahd looked behind him.

There was no glacis to climb, no ravelins to flank, no embrasures to gout cannon-fire.

But Dodd did not express that opinion to Bappoo, nor did he urge the Prince to build an earthen glacis outside the wall to soak up the fire of the breaching batteries.

Two of them we blow into ruin, but even as we fire the shot which disembowels the third, his last plasma bolt impacts on our glacis, and agony crashes through our brutally overloaded pain receptors.

If its aiming point is on front of the glacis, it'll ricochet off.

It was built low within its protective glacis of packed earth and sand off which, as Sharpe watched, the small shot of the frigate bounced like cricket balls.

He with eleven others held their ground against the Prince of Hesse's corps behind the old rampart of Andernach, and only fell back upon the bulk of the army when the hostile cannon had effected a breach from the top of the parapet to the slope of the glacis.

Much of my glacis plate has degraded or been stripped away entirely, and only my internal disrupter shields are saving me from complete obliteration.

Two of its starboard infinite repeaters had been blasted into mangled wreckage, energy weapon hits had sent molten splatters of duralloy weeping down its glacis plate to freeze like tears of pain, a third of its after sensor arrays had been stripped away by a near miss, and its forward starboard track shield was jammed in the lowered position, buckled and rent by enemy fire.