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  1. a heavily armed war galley of ancient Greece.
  2. a suit of ancient Roman scale armor for a man or horse.
  3. Zoology. the bony plates or scales covering the body of certain fishes or reptiles.

Origin of cataphract

1575–85; < Latin cataphractus fully armored < Greek katáphraktos (akin to kataphrássein to clothe fully in armor), equivalent to kata- cata- + phraktós fenced, protectively clothed (phrag- fence + -tos verbal adjective suffix)
Related formscat·a·phrac·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cataphract

Historical Examples

  • Cataphract, kat′a-frakt, n. (Milton) a soldier in full armour.

    Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary (part 1 of 4: A-D)


Word Origin and History for cataphract


"coat of mail," Middle English, from Latin cataphractes "breastplate of iron scales," from Greek kataphraktes "coat of mail," from kataphraktos "covered up," from kataphrassein "to fortify," from kata "entirely" (see cata-) + phrassein "to fence around, enclose, defend" (cf. diaphragm).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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