A billet is a living quarters to which a soldier is assigned to sleep.
Historically, a billet was a private dwelling that was required to
accept the soldier.
Soldiers are generally billeted in barracks or garrisons when not on
combat duty, although in some armies soldiers with families are
permitted to maintain a home off-post. Used for a building, the term
is more commonly used in British English;
United States standard terms
are quarters, barracks, "Single (Soldier) Housing" or "Family
1 British history
United States usage
3 Amateur sports
4 Other usage
Originally, a "billet" (from the French) was a note, commonly used in
the 18th and early 19th centuries as a "billet of invitation." A
particular use of the word in this sense is to denote an order issued
to a soldier entitling him to quarters with a certain person. From
this meaning, the word billet came to be loosely used of the quarters
thus obtained. Repeated petitions against the practice of
billeting, starting in the 16th century, culminated in its outlawing
in 1689 as an extension of a section of the
Petition of Right
Petition of Right 1628.
During wartime, civilians who have been evacuated from a city in
danger of attack are billetted in communal shelters or in the homes of
individuals. The practice of billetting evacuees was widespread in
Britain during World War II, particularly during the Blitz, when
children and other non-essential persons in major cities were sent to
rural areas for safety.
In European countries since the formation of regular forces the
Quartermaster was an occupation and a rank of the individuals
responsible for provision of sleeping quarters as well as other
provisions for regular time troops.
United States usage
One of the major grievances of the American colonists against the
British government which led to the
American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War was the
quartering of soldiers in civilian homes. As a result, the Third
Amendment to the
United States Constitution provides restrictions on
the manner in which the Federal government of the
United States may
require civilians to provide housing for American soldiers.
Billet can mean a specific personnel position, assignment, or duty
station which may be filled by one person, most commonly used by the
United States Navy, the
United States Marine Corps, and the United
States Coast Guard. Every person reporting aboard a ship or shore
installation in the naval services is assigned a billet according to
the unit watch, quarter and station bill, which shows the duties,
stations and billet assignments for all crew members.
Billet can also refer to the position and weapons of the members of a
unit. For example, the billets of a fireteam include a fireteam leader
(M16), a rifleman (M16), an automatic rifleman (M249), and a grenadier
(M16 with M203 grenade launcher).
In North America, billet families offer room and board to junior ice
hockey players (or Under-20 athletes from other sports, such as
soccer). who leave home to join elite teams in other towns. Coaches
are often involved with matching a player to a billet family. The
objective of a billet family is to provide a "home away from home" for
young players during the season. However, exaggerated fears over child
safety in amateur sports in Canada drastically curtailed billeting
practice. Many places do not billet, while other clubs through
their provincial sports' bodies have instituted mandatory criminal
record checks for all involved in amateur sports, including coaches,
volunteers and anyone over eighteen years of age from the host
Spain the noble officers of royal tercios were billeted in the
homes of the affluent and well-to-do of the cities/towns they were
stationed in. This usage is employed as a plot device in the Barber of
In Canada, the term is widely used in conjunction with housing
visiting performers from theatrical or musical tours, such as for a
Fringe theatre festival or a choir festival. Students travelling for a
band or choir tour may billet with members of the host band or choir.
The expression "billet" is also used for an exchange student.
^ One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text
from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.
(1911). "Billet". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge
University Press. p. 934.
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Billeting". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ Cutler and Cutler, p 26
^ Cutler and Cutler, p 238
^ "Edmonton Keyano Swim Club : Event". Eksc.com. 2011-10-01.
^ "Quinte Ballet School of Canada". Quinteballetschool.com. Archived
from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
^ "Alberta Coaches Council Policies - Coaches". Swimalberta.ca.
Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
Cutler, Deborah W. and Thomas J. Cutler (2005). Dictionary of Naval
Terms. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland.