The Meaning of Cavalier: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of cavalier? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word cavalier, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word cavalier mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word cavalier describes a chi\valrous man who may not take things as seriously as necessary. This person is bearing the spirit of a knight on horseback. Those who have a cavalier attitude or cavalier approach, or behave in a cavalier manner act like dignified officials, and are sometimes holier-than-thou or flippant. This refers to a person who was a supporter of King Charles. Cavalier is three syllables – cav-a-lier, and the pronunciation of cavalier is kævəlɪər. 

The word cavalier is also used as a noun to refer to something that rises from the level ground of a bastion to more than ordinary height. The word cavalier can also be used as a noun to refer to a mounted soldier or knight, a gentleman who is trained in arms and horsemanship, a noble woman, woman of high social position, or lady’s escort or dancing partner and courtly gentleman, or – when capitalized – an adherent or a royalist supporter of Charles I of England. It can also be used as an adjective to refer to someone who is pertaining to the court of Charles I, a member of the court party in comparison to a Roundhead or an adherent of Parliament. Many of this group of 17th-century Royalist supporters of King Charles were English poets.

Many different languages also contain words that mean cavalier. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to each other. These are known as cognates, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning, and look and sound similar across different languages. These are often formed when two words or languages share a common root or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word cavalier is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Czech: pyšný‎ (masc.), povýšený‎ (masc.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: àrdanach‎
  •  Latvian: iedomīgs‎, uzpūtīgs‎
  •  Romanian: mândru‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: надмен‎, nadmen‎
  •  Japanese: 高慢‎, 傲慢‎ (ごうまんな, gōman na), 横柄‎, 尊大‎
  •  Greek: υπεροπτικός‎
  •  Maori: whakakake‎
  •  Spanish: soberbio‎, altanero‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: mahtaileva‎, ylimielinen‎, koppava‎, kopea‎
  •  Irish: airdiúil‎, anuaibhreach‎, arduallach‎, ceannard‎, foruallach‎, iarlaitheach‎, móiréiseach‎, mórtasach‎, teidealach‎, toirtéiseach‎
  •  Norman: hautain‎
  •  Persian: برمنش‎ (barmaneš)
  •  Dutch: hooghartig‎, hoogmoedig‎
  •  Hungarian: dölyfös‎
  •  Portuguese: soberbo‎, vanglorioso‎, imodesto‎, altivo‎
  •  Armenian: գոռոզություն‎
  •  Swedish: högfärdig‎, högdragen‎, högmodig‎, överlägsen‎
  •  Italian: superbo‎, orgoglioso‎, altero‎, altezzoso‎, arrogante‎
  •  Mandarin: 傲慢‎ (àomàn), 高傲‎ (gāo’ào), 驕傲‎, 骄傲‎ (jiāo’ào)
  •  Arabic: (indefinite) مُتَعَالٍ‎, (definite) الْمُتَعَالِي‎, متكبر‎, متغطرس‎
  •  Russian: высокоме́рный‎, презри́тельный‎, надме́нный‎
  •  Catalan: superb‎, orgullós‎, arrogant‎
  •  French: hautain‎, suffisant‎
  •  Latin: superbus‎ (masc.)
  •  German: hochmütig‎, stolz‎, überheblich‎, arrogant‎, hochnäsig‎, eingebildet‎, hochfahrend‎

What is the origin of the word cavalier?

According to Merriam-Webster and Definitions, this term originally referred to social and political attitudes and behaviour, but it quickly became associated with the fashionable clothing of the court at the time. The commander of Charles I’s cavalry, Prince Rupert, is considered to be an archetypal Cavalier. This root is also where we get the Old Italian cavaliere, Middle French chevalier, Old Provençal cavalier, and Spanish caballero, and can be compared to the Welsh ceffyl, Old Church Slavonic kobyla, Breton kefel, and Irish capall. This term was first used during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration as a derogatory term and comes from the Latin capercaillie and Late Latin caballārius rider, from the Latin caballus horse + ārius. This word is of obscure origin.

What are synonyms and antonyms of cavalier?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word cavalier (adj., n.). These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool because they can help you add variety to your writing and speech and avoid repeating yourself, while growing your vocabulary in the process. This list of synonyms for the word cavalier is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  squire
  •  scornful
  •  royalist
  •  uppity
  •  horseman
  •  inamorato
  •  high-and-mighty
  •  stuck-up
  •  jockey
  •  snotty
  •  curt
  •  brusque
  •  caballero
  •  proud
  •  careless
  •  chevalier
  •  gentleman
  •  highhanded
  •  knight-errant
  •  insouciant
  •  disdainful
  •  superior
  •  overbearing
  •  escort
  •  dismissive
  •  beau
  •  unconcerned
  •  haughty
  •  gallant
  •  swain
  •  casual
  •  trooper
  •  indifferent
  •  high-handed
  •  night
  •  offhand
  •  insolent
  •  supercilious
  •  arrogant
  •  suitor
  •  rider
  •  cocky
  •  cavalryman
  •  lofty
  •  high and mighty
  •  contemptuous
  •  equestrian
  •  overweening
  •  lordly
  •  condescending

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word cavalier. These opposite words are known as antonyms, and are also very useful to know if you are trying to grow your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word cavalier is provided by Power Thesaurus as well. 

  •  brown-nosing
  •  bum-sucking
  •  blue
  •  as sly as a fox
  •  bad
  •  apple-polishing
  •  clever as a wagonload of monkeys
  •  cringing
  •  awfully clever
  •  reticent
  •  modest
  •  as clever as a wagonload of monkeys
  •  acquiescent
  •  beneficent
  •  brown nosing
  •  buttering up
  •  as tricky as a monkey
  •  bounteous
  •  submissive
  •  considerate
  •  compassionate
  •  arse kissing
  •  decent
  •  bootlicking
  •  anxious
  •  clever as a cartload of monkeys
  •  charitable
  •  as cunning as a fox
  •  altruistic
  •  brownnosing
  •  arse licking
  •  as clever as a cartload of monkeys
  •  frugal
  •  bighearted
  •  bountiful
  •  ass-kissing
  •  ass licking
  •  polite
  •  benevolent
  •  compliant
  •  caring
  •  sad
  •  cunning as a fox
  •  ass-licking
  •  arse-licking
  •  bashful
  •  as cunning as a cartload of monkeys
  •  cunning as a cartload of monkeys
  •  cowering

Overall, the word cavalier means flippant of offhand. This was characteristic of the cavalier poets who were each a supporter of the party of King Charles, orany other adherent of Charles. 

Sources:

  1. What does cavalier mean? | Definitions 
  2. Cavalier | Definition of Cavalier | Merriam-Webster 
  3. Cavalier synonyms – 1 092 Words and Phrases for Cavalier | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Cavalier antonyms – 224 Opposites of Cavalier | Power Thesaurus 
  5. Cavalier definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  6. cavalier: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense