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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As long as our one cavalier has been lured away from us by Delia we might as well try to console one another, laughed Marjorie.

  • History has a cavalier way of recording the benefits of conquest.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Here was a perplexing and unforeseen dilemma; and how to dispose of the cavalier was a question of no slight importance.

  • "The rest of the planking's sure to be gone by this time," continues the cavalier.

    Brighter Britain! (Volume 1 of 2) William Delisle Hay
  • Again he is a cavalier wearing his velvet mantle, and plumed hat, with the languid elegance of a gentleman of leisure.

    Rembrandt Estelle M. Hurll
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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