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  1. (formerly, in India) a native soldier, usually an infantryman, in the service of Europeans, especially of the British.

Origin of sepoy

1675–85, in sense “horseman”; 1710–20 for current sense; variant of sipahi < Urdu < Persian sipāhī horseman, soldier, derivative of sipāh army; cf. spahi
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sepoy

Historical Examples

  • "Perhaps he saved his master's life in the Sepoy rebellion," she thought.

    Sara Crewe

    Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • In May, sixty-one artillerymen and four Sepoy regiments were there.

  • To the walls, however, the Sepoy directed his closest scrutiny.

    The Flaw in the Sapphire

    Charles M. Snyder

  • “I will pay you the tribute of assuring you that it is not,” replied the Sepoy.

    The Flaw in the Sapphire

    Charles M. Snyder

  • “Very well; I will not return until the time appointed,” said the Sepoy.

    The Flaw in the Sapphire

    Charles M. Snyder

British Dictionary definitions for sepoy


  1. (formerly) an Indian soldier in the service of the British

Word Origin

C18: from Portuguese sipaio, from Urdu sipāhī, from Persian: horseman, from sipāh army
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

Word Origin and History for sepoy


"native of India in British military service," 1717, from Portuguese sipae, from Urdu sipahi, from Persian sipahi "soldier, horseman," from sipah "army." The Sepoy Mutiny was 1857-8.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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