poilu

[ pwah-loo; French pwa-ly ]
/ ˈpwɑ lu; French pwaˈlü /

noun, plural poi·lus [pwah-looz; French pwa-ly] /ˈpwɑ luz; French pwaˈlü/.

a French common soldier.

Origin of poilu

1910–15; < French, in earlier slang: tough individual, tough, brave, literally, hairy, haired; Middle French, Old French pelu (cf. plew) < Vulgar Latin *pilūtus, equivalent to Latin pil(us) hair + Vulgar Latin *-ūtus, for Latin -ātus -ate1 (e > oi by influence of poil hair < Latin pilus)
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British Dictionary definitions for poilu

poilu

/ (ˈpwɑːluː, French pwaly) /

noun

an infantryman in the French Army, esp one in the front lines in World War I

Word Origin for poilu

C20: from French, literally: hairy (that is, virile), from poil hair, from Latin pilus a hair
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