cav·​al·​cade ˌka-vəl-ˈkād How to pronounce cavalcade (audio)
: a procession (see procession entry 1 sense 1) of riders or carriages
: a procession of vehicles or ships
: a dramatic sequence or procession : series
a cavalcade of natural disasters

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The History of Cavalcade

Cavalcade is a word with deep equestrian roots, though it comes (via French and possibly Italian) from a Latin word (caballus, meaning “work horse” or “gelding”) that displaced equestrian’s Latin ancestor, equus, as a neutral word for horse in Romance languages. In the 17th century, cavalcade was used specifically to refer to a procession of horseback riders or carriages, especially as part of a special occasion, whether joyous or funereal. Over time, that meaning was extended to processions of other modes of travel, including ships, vehicles, or even paraders on foot or float (as invoked by the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith in his song “Rose Parade” with the lyric “a wink and a wave from the cavalcade”). As a cavalcade of words before and since have done, cavalcade also took on a figurative sense to refer to a series of related things, whether or not they happen to be marching (or trotting) down the road.

Examples of cavalcade in a Sentence

The cavalcade arrived at the hotel. a cavalcade of antique cars a cavalcade of natural disasters
Recent Examples on the Web Cadet musicians from the Combined Cadet Force Pipes and Drums and 51 Brigade Cadet Military Band also performed as part of the Royal Procession, and well-wishers lined the Royal Mile for a closer glimpse at the cavalcades. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 5 July 2023 Surrounding the home is a village that comes to life at night with the magical display of lights, from the cavalcade of mushrooms that line Hobbit Lane to a lit mural of an elven village. Claire Trageser, Travel + Leisure, 23 June 2023 The Rolling Thunder Revue cavalcade arrived, greeted by then-owner Mamma Frasca. Lindsay Crudele,, 1 June 2023 Guests visiting the park next Wednesday will be treated to a special one-day-only Moon Girl celebration, including a stage show on the Hollywood Backlot Stage and a cavalcade along Hollywood Blvd. Eve Chen, USA TODAY, 11 Feb. 2023 Indianapolis Star Hebron's river of points eventually washed away North White in a 51-18 cavalcade in Indiana boys basketball on February 4. Indy Star Ai Sports, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Feb. 2023 Shuttle buses replaced trolley service on most of the B Branch of the MBTA’s Green Line Wednesday afternoon, triggering rush hour delays and a cavalcade of angry and confused commuters. Daniel Kool,, 16 Aug. 2023 Princess Anne traveled behind the King and Queen in the second carriage, while Princess Margaret’s two children were also in the cavalcade. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 22 June 2023 He’s pushed or copied a cavalcade of GOP policies and legislation praised by conservatives as common sense and blasted by critics as extreme. Dallas News, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cavalcade.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French, going back to Middle French, probably borrowed from Italian cavalcata "journey made by horse, group riding horseback, procession of riders accompanying a distinguished person, or formed on the occasion of a ceremony," from cavalcare "to ride horseback" (going back to Late Latin caballicāre, from Latin caballus "work horse, gelding" + Latin -icāre, verb formative) + -ata, suffix of action and result; caballus, of obscure origin, perhaps a loanword from a language of the Balkans or Anatolia — more at -ade

Note: The French word probably belongs with other loanwords dealing with military and equestrian matters taken from Italian in the late 15th and 16th centuries, though early instances may also derive from Occitan cavalcada, already attested by ca. 1300. — The earliest evidence for the etymon of caballus is a Greek personal name Kaballâs in a 4th-century b.c. inscription from Ephesus; kaballeîon "work horse" is attested a century later in an inscription from Callatis on the Black Sea coast of southeastern Romania. Neither the word nor any derivative became generally used in Byzantine or Modern Greek. Latin caballus is first attested in a line from a satire of Gaius Lucilius (2nd century b.c.), where it has a definite derogatory connotation: "succusatoris taetri tardique caballi" ("of a jolter, a foul, slow caballus"). In the Romance languages caballus displaced classical Latin equus (descended from the Indo-European etymon; see equine) as a neutral word for a horse, though the progeny of the feminine form equa continued in use in some areas as a word for "mare" (Old French ive, ieve, Spanish yegua, Portuguese egoa, Romanian iapă, etc.). As a loanword into Insular Celtic languages, caballus appears to have had a variant *cappil(l)us (whence Old Irish capall, Welsh ceffyl). Inviting comparison with caballus are a number of words more remote in phonetic form, which cannot be reduced to a single borrowed source: Old Church Slavic kobyla "mare" (in all Slavic languages, as Russian kobýla, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian kòbila, etc.; a loanword and not an internal Slavic formation according to Oleg Trubačev, Proisxoždenie nazvanij domašnix životnyx v slavjanskix jazykax, Moscow, 1960); kevel "well-bred fast horse" in the medieval Turkic dialect recorded in the dictionary of Maḥmūd al-Kāšġarī (11th century); Finnish heponen "horse," Estonian hobu, hobune.

First Known Use

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of cavalcade was in 1644


Dictionary Entries Near cavalcade

Cite this Entry

“Cavalcade.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


cav·​al·​cade ˌkav-əl-ˈkād How to pronounce cavalcade (audio)
: a procession especially of riders or carriages
: a dramatic series (as of related events)

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