AskDefine | Define cavalier

Dictionary Definition

cavalier adj : given to haughty disregard of others [syn: high-handed]


1 a gallant or courtly gentleman [syn: chevalier]
2 a royalist supporter of Charles I during the English Civil War

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Gay; easy; offhand; frank.
    The very dignified officials were confused by his cavalier manner.
  2. High-spirited.
  3. Supercilious; haughty; disdainful; curt; brusque.
  4. Of or pertaining to the party of King Charles I.


  1. A military man serving on horse.
  2. A gay, sprightly, military man; hence, a gallant.
  3. One of the court party in the time of King Charles I, as contrasted with a Roundhead or an adherent of Parliament.
  4. A work of more than ordinary height, rising from the level ground of a bastion, etc., and overlooking surrounding parts.
  5. A well mannered man; a gentleman.





Extensive Definition

Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War (16421651). Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I's cavalry, is often considered an archetypical cavalier.

Early usage

Cavalier derives from the Spanish word caballeros, itself originating in the Vulgar Latin word caballarius, meaning horseman. Shakespeare used the word cavaleros to describe an overbearing swashbuckler or swaggering gallant in Henry IV, Part 2, in which Shallow says "I'll drink to Master Bardolph, and to all the cavaleros about London." Use of the term Cavaliers during the English Civil Wars was in mocking reference to the supposed allegiance of the royal court to the customs and practices of Spanish Catholics.

English civil war

However, the word was coined by the Roundheads as a pejorative propaganda image of a licentious, hard drinking and frivolous man, who rarely, if ever, thought of God. It is this image which has survived and many Royalists, for example Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester, fitted this description to a tee. Of another cavalier, Lord Goring a general in the Royalist army, the principal advisor to Charles II, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, said that he "would, without hesitation, have broken any trust, or done any act of treachery to have satisfied an ordinary passion or appetite; and in truth wanted nothing but industry (for he had wit, and courage, and understanding and ambition, uncontrolled by any fear of God or man) to have been as eminent and successful in the highest attempt of wickedness as any man in the age he lived in or before. Of all his qualifications dissimulation was his masterpiece; in which he so much excelled, that men were not ordinarily ashamed, or out of countenance, with being deceived but twice by him." This sense has developed into the modern English use of "cavalier" to describe a recklessly nonchalant attitude, though still with a suggestion of stylishness.

Cavaliers in the arts

See also 1600-1650 in fashion and Cavalier poets
An example of the Cavalier style can be seen in the painting "Charles I, King of England, from Three Angles" by Anthony van Dyck.




  • Barratt, John; Cavaliers The Royalist Army at War 1642–1646, Pub Sutton, 2000, ISBN 0-7509-3525-1
  • Cromwell: Our Chief of Men
  • Stoyle, Mark; Choosing Sides in the English Civil War BBC website
  • John Cruso [ Military Instructions for the Cavallrie: or Rules and directions for the service of horse] first published 1632
based on the article CAVALIER
cavalier in Spanish: Cavalier (Apodo)
cavalier in French: Cavaliers
cavalier in Polish: Kawalerowie
cavalier in Russian: Кавалеры

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bayard, Casanova, Don Juan, Don Quixote, Gawain, Lancelot, Lothario, Ritter, Romeo, Sidney, Sir Galahad, abrupt, aggressive, amoroso, arrogant, bachelor, banneret, baronet, bearish, beastly, beau, bluff, blunt, bodyguard, boyfriend, brash, broncobuster, brusque, buckaroo, caballero, cavaliere servente, cavalryman, chaperon, chevalier, churlish, circus rider, companion, conductor, contemptuous, contumelious, convoy, cowboy, cowgirl, cowpuncher, crusty, curt, disdainful, dismissive, duenna, equestrian, equestrienne, escort, esquire, fellow, fellow traveler, flame, gallant, gaucho, gigolo, gruff, guard, harsh, haughty, high-and-mighty, horse soldier, horseback rider, horsebacker, horseman, horsewoman, inamorato, insolent, jockey, knight, knight bachelor, knight banneret, knight baronet, knight-errant, lady-killer, lofty, love-maker, man, mounted policeman, necker, old man, overbearing, petter, philanderer, postboy, postilion, puncher, rider, rough, roughrider, safe-conduct, seducer, severe, sharp, sheik, shepherd, short, snippy, squire, steeplechaser, sugar daddy, supercilious, superior, surly, swain, trick rider, truculent, usher, vaquero, young man
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1