• synonyms


  1. a student in a national service academy or private military school or on a training ship.
  2. a student in training for service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard.Compare midshipman(def 1).
  3. a trainee in a business or profession.
  4. a younger son or brother.
  5. the youngest son.
  6. (formerly) a gentleman, usually a younger son, who entered the army to prepare for a subsequent commission.
  7. Also called cadet blue. a grayish to strong blue color.
  8. Also called cadet gray. a bluish-gray to purplish-blue color.
  9. Slang. a pimp.
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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 formsca·det·ship, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cadetship

Historical Examples of cadetship

  • And no boy who isn't in his right mind could get into the Point even if given a cadetship.

    Under Fire

    Charles King

  • Good-by, Ralph, and good luck to you in getting that cadetship.

    Starlight Ranch

    Charles King

  • This would be in or about 1794, and doubtless refers to his cadetship.

  • Then you think neither could stand an examination for the cadetship?

    The Stokesley Secret

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • In 1783 he obtained a cadetship in a French regiment at Strassburg.

British Dictionary definitions for cadetship


  1. a young person undergoing preliminary training, usually before full entry to the uniformed services, police, etc, esp for officer status
  2. a school pupil receiving elementary military training in a school corps
  3. (in England and in France before 1789) a gentleman, usually a younger son, who entered the army to prepare for a commission
  4. a younger son or brother
  5. cadet branch the family or family branch of a younger son
  6. (in New Zealand) a person learning sheep farming on a sheep station
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Derived Formscadetship, noun

Word Origin for cadet

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

Word Origin and History for cadetship



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper