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[kuh-det] /kəˈdɛt/
a student in a national service academy or private military school or on a training ship.
a student in training for service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard.
Compare midshipman (def 1).
a trainee in a business or profession.
a younger son or brother.
the youngest son.
(formerly) a gentleman, usually a younger son, who entered the army to prepare for a subsequent commission.
Also called cadet blue. a grayish to strong blue color.
Also called cadet gray. a bluish-gray to purplish-blue color.
Slang. a pimp.
Origin of cadet
1600-10; < French < Gascon capdet chief, captain (referring to the younger sons of noble families); compare Old Provençal capdel headman < Latin capitellum literally, small head; see capital2
Related forms
cadetship, noun


[kuh-det] /kəˈdɛt/
noun, Russian History.
a member of the former Constitutional Democratic Party.
< Russian kadét, equivalent to ka + de (the letter names of k, d, representing konstitutsiónnyĭ demokrát Constitutional Democrat) + -t from kadét (now obsolete) cadet Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cadet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Dare you to wear your brother's coat without the crescent which should stamp you as his cadet.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Grushnitski is a cadet; he has only been a year in the service.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • The Marquess of Carabas started in life as the cadet of a noble family.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • That is the one thing they all care for—like that cadet last autumn.

    Father Sergius Leo Tolstoy
  • The life of the cadet differed little from that of the schoolboy.

British Dictionary definitions for cadet


a young person undergoing preliminary training, usually before full entry to the uniformed services, police, etc, esp for officer status
a school pupil receiving elementary military training in a school corps
(in England and in France before 1789) a gentleman, usually a younger son, who entered the army to prepare for a commission
a younger son or brother
cadet branch, the family or family branch of a younger son
(in New Zealand) a person learning sheep farming on a sheep station
Derived Forms
cadetship, noun
Word Origin
C17: from French, from dialect (Gascon) capdet captain, ultimately from Latin caput head
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 cadet

c.1610, "younger son or brother," from French cadet "military student officer," noun use of adjective, "younger" (15c.), from Gascon capdet "captain, chief, youth of a noble family," from Late Latin capitellum, literally "little chief," hence, "inferior head of a family," diminutive of Latin caput "head" (see capitulum). "The eldest son being regarded as the first head of the family, the second son the cadet, or little head" [Kitchin].

Apparently younger sons from Gascon noble families were sent to French court to serve as officers, which gave the word its military meaning. In English, the meaning "gentleman entering the military as a profession" is from 1650s, and that of "student at a military college" is from 1775.

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



A despised person; geek: Ignore him, he's such a cadet (1980s+ Students)

Related Terms

space cadet

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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