Student Dictionary

One entry found for chivalry.
Main Entry: chiv·al·ry
Pronunciation: primarystressshiv-schwal-remacron
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English chivalrie "group of knights, qualities of knighthood," from early French chevalerie (same meaning), from chevalier "knight, noble horseman," from Latin caballarius "horseman," from earlier caballus "horse" --related to CAVALIER, CAVALRY
1 : a body of knights
2 : the system, spirit, ways, or customs of knighthood
3 : chivalrous conduct
Word History In the Middle Ages the French referred to a knight as a chevalier. This word is derived from the Latin word for "horseman," caballarius, which in turn comes from Latin caballus, meaning "horse." Knights were supposed to follow a code of conduct which required them to be brave, devoted to duty, and kind to the weak. The French word for these qualities was chevalerie. When this noun was borrowed into English, it became chivalry. Its adjective forms are chivalrous and chivalric. The Latin word for "horseman," caballarius, has also given us two other common English words. One is cavalry, meaning "troops mounted on horseback," and the other is cavalier, which as a noun means "mounted knight, gentleman" and as an adjective means "tending to ignore the rights of others." Cavalier may be traced back through French and Italian to its Latin source. In English, cavalier was used especially to refer to a mounted soldier who was colorful in dress and gallant in manner. During the English Civil War (1641-1649), those who backed the king were called Cavaliers, probably because of their vivid look and stylish manners. Some cavaliers, however, became proud and rude. They showed scorn for the rights and feelings of people of lower social rank. The result was that the adjective cavalier came to be used to describe such a scornful person.

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