cavalier

adjective
cav·a·lier | \ˌka-və-ˈlir \

Definition of cavalier 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : marked by or given to offhand and often disdainful (see disdain entry 1) dismissal of important matters a cavalier attitude toward money has a cavalier disregard for the rights of others

2 : debonair

3a capitalized : of or relating to the party of Charles I of England in his struggles with the Puritans and Parliament

b : aristocratic portrayed the plantation owner as a cavalier fop

c capitalized : of or relating to the English Cavalier poets of the mid-17th century

cavalier

noun

Definition of cavalier (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship

2 : a mounted soldier : knight

3 capitalized : an adherent of Charles I of England

4 : a lady's escort or dancing partner : gallant

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Other Words from cavalier

Adjective

cavalierism \-ˌi-zəm \ noun
cavalierly adverb

The Evolution of Cavalier

Noun

According to a dictionary prepared by Thomas Blount in 1656, a cavalier was "a knight or gentleman, serving on horseback, a man of arms." That meaning is true to the history of the noun, which traces back to the Late Latin word caballarius, meaning "horseman." By around 1600, it had also come to denote "a roistering, swaggering fellow." In the 1640s, English Puritans applied it disdainfully to their adversaries, the swashbuckling Royalist followers of Charles I, who sported longish hair and swords. Although some thought those cavaliers "several sorts of Malignant Men,… ready to commit all manner of Outrage and Violence," others saw them as quite suave—which may explain why cavalier can be either complimentary or a bit insulting.

Examples of cavalier in a Sentence

Adjective

They are too cavalier in their treatment of others. She has a cavalier attitude about spending money. He has a cavalier disregard for the rights of others.

Noun

a novel about the dashing cavaliers and gracious ladies of the South before the Civil War
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The action begins with an almost careless, cavalier suicide by a young subway worker whose wife, Annie, is pregnant with their first child. Mary Gordon, New York Times, "In Alice McDermott’s Novel, A Cloistered Life Blows Open," 2 Oct. 2017 Such a cavalier attitude towards existing agreements will make future deals harder to strike. The Economist, "Protectionism and its risks," 5 Oct. 2017 For visitors, the idea of taking the wheel is daunting; roads are narrow and lined with limestone walls. Plus, drivers in this sun-drenched, densely populated country of 450,000 are known for a somewhat cavalier attitude. Roy Harris, chicagotribune.com, "Malta, the island nation just below Sicily, is an increasingly popular stopover," 28 Aug. 2017 Prosecutors in his own office were repulsed and embarrassed by his cavalier dismissal of his own actions. Daniel Borenstein, The Mercury News, "Borenstein: DA Peterson, now a felon, should have quit while ahead," 15 June 2017 For the first time in his career, his character's cavalier attitude towards death doesn't avoid it, but unleashes it. Jake Kring-schreifels, Esquire, "How Tom Cruise Rebranded Himself Into Our Most Reliable Action Hero," 10 June 2017 Doug discovered a notation for choreography for eight women that fit the cavalier music perfectly and costume sketches for eight Sugar Plum Fairy attendants. Leilah Bernstein, Los Angeles Magazine, "These ‘Lost’ Ballets Are Being Performed for the First Time in L.A.," 16 June 2017 My former colleagues at the FBI who are working on this case and have uncovered the full scale of Russia’s efforts must be incredulous at Trump’s cavalier attitude. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: 40 questions for Jeff Sessions," 12 June 2017 Obstetric medicine is like aviation: As even the worst airlines go years without a crash, so can even the most cavalier, careless hospitals go years without a mother or a baby dying or being serious injured. Adam Wolfberg, The Atlantic, "The Doctor Who Revolutionized Hospital-Birth Safety," 26 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nicole Morrison of Houston, who was rescue coordinator for her local cavalier King Charles spaniel club, says cavaliers, for instance, need regular teeth brushing and dental cleanings, as well as weight control to prevent obesity. Kim Campbell Thornton, sacbee, "Adopting the right furry friend for you takes some forethought | The Sacramento Bee," 23 May 2018 The refined sensibilities of his hippos stand in touching contrast to their obvious tonnage, and his pen line — though never forgetting their impossible weight and size — endows them with the grace and airiness of a ballerina and her cavalier. Amy Bloom, New York Times, "For the Love of ‘George and Martha’," 29 Mar. 2018 Ian Hussey as her cavalier was dashing, his soloing and partnering both solid. Ellen Dunkel, Philly.com, "Pennsylvania Ballet delivers the Christmas magic in 'Nutcracker'," 10 Dec. 2017 Her cavalier, or escort for the evening, will be Maharaja Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, who first gained the title in 2011 at the young age of 13. Hilary Weaver, vanityfair.com, "Ava Phillippe Is About to Become a Debutante," 9 Oct. 2017 Her cavalier, or escort for the evening, will be Maharaja Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, who first gained the title in 2011 at the young age of 13. Hilary Weaver, Vanities, "Ava Phillippe Is About to Become a Debutante," 9 Oct. 2017 For a man who could decide to use nuclear weapons to speak about them in a cavalier and bullying tone is obscene. James Fallows, The Atlantic, "Trump's Shocking Recklessness," 24 Sep. 2017 Misty Copeland will perform the title role at the May 31 matinée, squired by the company’s new Danish cavalier, Alban Lendorf. The New Yorker, "American Ballet Theatre," 5 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cavalier.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cavalier

Adjective

circa 1641, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cavalier

Adjective

see cavalier entry 2

Noun

Middle French, from Old Italian cavaliere, from Old Occitan cavalier, from Late Latin caballarius horseman, from Latin caballus

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Time Traveler for cavalier

The first known use of cavalier was in 1589

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More Definitions for cavalier

cavalier

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of cavalier

: having or showing no concern for something that is important or serious

cavalier

noun
cav·a·lier | \ˌka-və-ˈlir \

Kids Definition of cavalier

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a mounted soldier

2 : a brave and courteous gentleman

cavalier

adjective

Kids Definition of cavalier (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : easy and lighthearted in manner

2 : having or showing no concern for a serious or important matter He has a cavalier attitude about money.

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