[kos-ak, -uh k]
- (especially in czarist Russia) a person belonging to any of certain groups of Slavs living chiefly in the southern part of Russia in Europe and forming an elite corps of horsemen.
Origin of Cossack
1590–1600; < Polish kozak or Ukrainian kozák, ultimately < a Turkic word taken to mean “adventurer, freebooter,” adopted as an ethnic name by Turkic tribal groups of the Eurasian steppes
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for cossack
The decision maker turned out to be a gray-haired Cossack ataman, or commander, in a traditional sheepskin hat.Held at Gunpoint by Ukraine Rebels
May 31, 2014
Subject has military bearing, short haircut, brought a military uniform or wears the Cossack chevron insignia.Russia Tells ‘Tourists’ How to Go Fight in Ukraine
April 13, 2014
Yet this was not enough for the Tsars, who saw a risk of the Cossack worldview catching on.
But in the current crisis, appropriately enough, the nature of a Cossack remains hard to pin down.
Historically, the Cossack way of living was one of disorder and adaption, of individualism and egalitarianism.
I had with me, in the capacity of soldier-servant, a Cossack of the frontier army.
I spread my felt cloak out on one bench, and the Cossack his on the other.
My Cossack met me at the door with a frightened countenance.
In about two hours' time, when all had grown silent in the harbour, I awakened my Cossack.
Roughly shaking the Cossack, I woke him up, rated him, and lost my temper.
- (formerly) any of the free warrior-peasants of chiefly East Slavonic descent who lived in communes, esp in Ukraine, and served as cavalry under the tsars
- of, relating to, or characteristic of the Cossacksa Cossack dance
C16: from Russian kazak vagabond, of Turkic origin
Word Origin and History for cossack
1590s, from Russian kozak, from Turkish kazak "adventurer, guerilla, nomad," from qaz "to wander." The same Turkic root is the source of the people-name Kazakh and the nation of Kazakhstan.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper