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a specially equipped motor vehicle, airplane, ship, etc., for carrying sick or injured people, usually to a hospital.
(formerly) a field hospital.
Contemporary Examples

Only when she was taken out of the car and stretched out in the ambulance did the tear in a vein near her heart open wide.
The Night Princess Diana Died Christopher Dickey August 30, 2013

By the time Murray, Jackson, and the ambulance arrived at the emergency room, Jackson still had a low pulse.
Jackson’s Final Panic Gerald Posner June 29, 2009

At Woodhull Hospital, the Bed-Stuy ambulance crew kept doing all they could as they wheeled Ramos into the emergency room.
‘Please Don’t Die!’: The Frantic Battle to Save Murdered Cops Michael Daly December 21, 2014

The Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance arrived at 3:41 a.m., Neiman said.
Porn Star Sledge Hammer’s Hidden Demons Maria Elena Fernandez April 22, 2012

After traveling just 15 miles in three hours her water broke and the log jam on the hard shoulder delayed an ambulance.
China’s Massive Holiday Traffic Mess The Telegraph October 1, 2012

Historical Examples

A crowd collected to see the body of a guest brought out and placed upon an ambulance.
Tales From Bohemia Robert Neilson Stephens

Scarcely a night went by without its patrol or ambulance case.
K Mary Roberts Rinehart

Still in his night clothing, Henri got into the ambulance and threw his uniform behind him.
The Amazing Interlude Mary Roberts Rinehart

On December 20 three of these unfortunate women were brought into the ambulance.
My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt

In spite of the ambulance linen, this is the worst day of all for the wretched Secretary and Reporter.
A Journal of Impressions in Belgium May Sinclair

a motor vehicle designed to carry sick or injured people

1798, “mobile or field hospital,” from French (hôpital) ambulant, literally “walking (hospital),” from Latin ambulantem (nominative ambulans), present participle of ambulare “to walk” (see amble).

AMBULANCE, s. f. a moveable hospital. These were houses constructed in a manner so as to be taken to pieces, and carried from place to place, according to the movements of the army; and served as receptacles in which the sick and wounded men might be received and attended. [“Lexicographica-Neologica Gallica” (The Neological French Dictionary), William Dupré, London, 1801]

The word was not common in English until the meaning transferred from “field hospital” to “vehicle for conveying wounded from field” (1854) during the Crimean War. In late 19c. U.S. the word was used dialectally to mean “prairie wagon.” Ambulance-chaser as a contemptuous term for a type of lawyer dates from 1897.

ambulance am·bu·lance (ām’byə-ləns)
A specially equipped vehicle used to transport the sick or injured.


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