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[kav-uh-leer, kav-uh-leer] /ˌkæv əˈlɪər, ˈkæv əˌlɪər/
a horseman, especially a mounted soldier; knight.
one having the spirit or bearing of a knight; a courtly gentleman; gallant.
a man escorting a woman or acting as her partner in dancing.
(initial capital letter) an adherent of Charles I of England in his contest with Parliament.
haughty, disdainful, or supercilious:
an arrogant and cavalier attitude toward others.
offhand or unceremonious:
The very dignified officials were confused by his cavalier manner.
(initial capital letter) of or relating to the Cavaliers.
(initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of the Cavalier poets or their work.
verb (used without object)
to play the cavalier.
to be haughty or domineering.
Origin of cavalier
1590-1600; < Middle French: horseman, knight < Old Italian cavaliere < Old Provençal < Late Latin caballārius man on horseback, equivalent to Latin caball(us) horse (cf. capercaillie) + -ārius -ary
Related forms
cavalierism, cavalierness, noun
cavalierly, adverb
uncavalier, adjective
uncavalierly, adverb
5. indifferent, offhand, uncaring, thoughtless, condescending. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cavalier
  • Then as soon as you can, continue doing things with your cavalier that you naturally do.
  • To write them off as totally irrelevant, and dismiss all the other data seems cavalier.
  • However, if one is looking for a mathematical definition of the theory one cannot be so cavalier.
  • Historians might take some offence at having their subject treated with such cavalier disregard for reality.
  • Their election pledges to be tough on crime often translate into cavalier, or unjust, treatment for individual defendants.
  • But that is a cavalier way to behave with taxpayers' money.
  • The presidents who willed many of these projects into existence were often cavalier about their legality.
  • The sports press simply isn't that biased or cavalier about the importance of reporting what's actually happening in the world.
  • It may readily be imagined how little such thwarting agrees with the old cavalier's fiery temperament.
  • She beheld distinctly a winged horse, mounted with a cavalier in rich armor, cleaving the air with rapid flight.
British Dictionary definitions for cavalier


showing haughty disregard; offhand
a gallant or courtly gentleman, esp one acting as a lady's escort
(archaic) a horseman, esp one who is armed
Derived Forms
cavalierly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Italian cavaliere, from Old Provençal cavalier, from Late Latin caballārius rider, from caballus horse, of obscure origin


a supporter of Charles I during the English Civil War Compare Roundhead
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cavalier

1580s, from Italian cavalliere "mounted soldier, knight; gentleman serving as a lady's escort," from Late Latin caballarius "horseman," from Vulgar Latin caballus, the common Vulgar Latin word for "horse" (and source of Italian cavallo, French cheval, Spanish caballo, Irish capall, Welsh ceffyl), displacing Latin equus (see equine).

Sense advanced in 17c. to "knight," then "courtly gentleman" (but also, pejoratively, "swaggerer"), which led to the adjectival senses, especially "disdainful" (1650s). Meaning "Royalist adherent of Charles I" is from 1641. Meaning "one who devotes himself solely to attendance on a lady" is from 1817, roughly translating Italian cavaliere-servente. In classical Latin caballus was "work horse, pack horse," sometimes, disdainfully, "hack, nag." "Not a native Lat. word (as the second -a- would show), though the source of the borrowing is uncertain" [Tucker]. Perhaps from some Balkan or Anatolian language, and meaning, originally, "gelding." The same source is thought to have yielded Old Church Slavonic kobyla.


"disdainful," 1650s, from cavalier (n.). Earlier it meant "gallant" (1640s). Related: Cavalierly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cavalier



A skillful boxer as distinct from a slugger or caveman (1920s+ Prizefight)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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