What I know about the word is as follows:

—It is a verb.

—Its meaning relates to movement.

—The word is used in the context of the military/army/troops.

—It is between two and three syllables long.

—It may begin with a "k" (I am not certain on this point).

—I remember thinking that the word seemed foreign or somewhat unusual both in sound and spelling, when coming across it.

—It was used in one of the few military narrative segments of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

I have not been able to remember this word for over a year, so your help is very much appreciated!

  • 2
    Do you know at what scale it would be applicable? I.e. Does it describe how soldiers move on the battlefield, or how armies move large numbers of troops, or both? – Veskah Feb 7 at 23:00
  • 1
    Could it be kinetic? It's not specifically military, it's more of a scientific term but it does start with a 'k', have three syllables, mean 'relating to movement' and has its origins in Greek so it could sound foregn if your aren't familiar with it. – BoldBen Feb 7 at 23:25
  • A bit of web searching found that the referenced novel has segments talking about tank battles during WWII, that might be useful info for future speculation. Rules out my possible answer of "Escalade", using ladders to break a siege. – arp Feb 8 at 4:05

I'm going to guess that the word you're thinking of is bivouac:


intransitive verb
1 : to make a bivouac : CAMP
// a place for the troops to bivouac
2 : to take shelter often temporarily

transitive verb
: to provide temporary quarters for
// They were bivouacked in the gym during the storm.

And the noun (which has the same spelling):

1 : a usually temporary encampment under little or no shelter
2 a : encampment usually for a night
b : a temporary or casual shelter or lodging

Merriam-Webster describes the origin of the word:

In his 1841 dictionary, Noah Webster observed bivouac to be a French borrowing having military origins. He defined the noun bivouac as "the guard or watch of a whole army, as in cases of great danger of surprise or attack" and the verb as "to watch or be on guard, as a whole army." The French word is derived from the Low German word biwacht, which translates to "by guard." Germans used the word specifically for a patrol of citizens who assisted the town watch at night. Today, bivouac has less to do with guarding and patrolling than it does with taking shelter.

Ironically, even though it's related to movement, it deals specifically with not moving.


Apart from the begin with a "k" part, it sounds like you're describing maneuver:

  1. a. A strategic or tactical military or naval movement.
    b. often maneuvers A large-scale tactical exercise carried out under simulated conditions of war.
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

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