cavalier

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

noun

adjective

verb (used without object)

to play the cavalier.
to be haughty or domineering.

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
Related formscav·a·lier·ism, cav·a·lier·ness, nouncav·a·lier·ly, adverbun·cav·a·lier, adjectiveun·cav·a·lier·ly, adverb

Word story

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cavalier

British Dictionary definitions for cavalier (1 of 2)

cavalier

/ (ˌkævəˈlɪə) /

adjective

showing haughty disregard; offhand

noun

a gallant or courtly gentleman, esp one acting as a lady's escort
archaic a horseman, esp one who is armed
Derived Formscavalierly, 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)

Cavalier

/ (ˌkævəˈlɪə) /

noun

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