[ kav-uh-leer, kav-uh-leer ]
/ ˌkæv əˈlɪər, ˈkæv əˌlɪər /



verb (used without object)

to play the cavalier.
to be haughty or domineering.


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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

historical usage of cavalier

Cavalier and its Romance cognates, Spanish caballero, Portuguese cavalleiro, Italian cavaliere (source of English cavalry ), Old Northern French cavailler, cavaler, Old French and French chevalier (source of English chevalier ), all derive from Late Latin caballārius “horseman, groom,” from Latin caballus “horse, (inferior) horse for riding, packhorse, nag.” In English in the late 16th century, cavalier meant “horseman, armed horseman, knight,” and also “gentleman at arms, courtly gentleman, gallant.”
By the end of the 16th century, cavalier had also become a term of abuse, meaning “braggart, swaggerer,” as in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2 (1596–99). This sense persisted till at least the English Civil War (1642–1651); the Puritan Roundheads called King Charles’s bellicose aristocratic supporters Cavaliers. By the mid-18th century, a cavalier also came to mean “an attendant upon or escort for a lady, a lady’s dancing partner.”
The adjective senses of cavalier, “offhand, careless, free and easy” arose in the second half of the 16th century; the negative adjective sense “haughty, disdainful” arose in the mid-18th century; the historical sense in reference to the Stuart Royalists arose in the mid-19th century.


cav·a·lier·ism, cav·a·lier·ness, nouncav·a·lier·ly, adverbun·cav·a·lier, adjectiveun·cav·a·lier·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for cavalier

British Dictionary definitions for cavalier (1 of 2)

/ (ˌkævəˈlɪə) /


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 of cavalier

cavalierly, adverb

Word Origin for cavalier

C16: from Italian cavaliere, from Old Provençal cavalier, from Late Latin caballārius rider, from caballus horse, of obscure origin

British Dictionary definitions for cavalier (2 of 2)

/ (ˌkævəˈlɪə) /


a supporter of Charles I during the English Civil WarCompare 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