in·​fan·​try ˈin-fən-trē How to pronounce infantry (audio)
plural infantries
: soldiers trained, armed, and equipped to fight on foot
: a branch of an army composed of these soldiers
: an infantry regiment or division

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The Italian word fante (from Latin infans, “infant, child”) originally meant “child,” later “youth, boy,” and then “servant.” In the 14th century, fante also took on the sense “foot soldier.” In Renaissance times, the fanteria, foot soldiers collectively, became a significant branch of arms, and the Italian word infanteria, was borrowed into English in the 1500s.

Examples of infantry in a Sentence

He joined the infantry after leaving school.
Recent Examples on the Web In late 2020, analysts with the California think-tank RAND gamed out a clash between U.S. Army and Russian army mechanized infantry companies in some near-future setting after the U.S. Army has integrated armed ground robots into its force structure. David Axe, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Jon Retzer, who served in the infantry with the Army and then the Army National Guard in the 1990s, said exposure logs should be kept for service members in any role, even when they’re not deployed or engaged in combat. Melissa Chan, NBC News, 17 Mar. 2024 Ukraine and Russia are both having difficulty enlisting sufficient troops in their 20s and early 30s, the preferred age range for infantry. Dara Massicot, Foreign Affairs, 8 Mar. 2024 The 50-kilowatt laser is mounted on the Stryker infantry fighting vehicle, and the Army deployed four of the systems for battlefield testing in the Middle East in February 2024. Iain Boyd, The Conversation, 7 Mar. 2024 There also will be about 10,000 posts cut from cavalry squadrons, Stryker brigade combat teams, infantry brigade combat teams, and security force assistance brigades, which are used to train foreign forces. Lolita C. Baldor, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Feb. 2024 Front-line Ukrainian infantry units report acute shortage of soldiers The bleeding of political support has all come from one side of the aisle. Paul Kane, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2024 Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the lack of adequate manpower, particularly infantry troops, and the need for stronger fortifications would be crucial in determining Ukraine’s trajectory. Dan Lamothe, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 But the Ukrainian defenses outside Avdiivka show rudimentary earthen fortifications, often with a connecting trench for infantry troops to reach firing positions closest to the enemy, but little else. Josh Holder, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French infanterie, from Old Italian infanteria, from infante boy, foot soldier, from Latin infant-, infans

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of infantry was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near infantry

Cite this Entry

“Infantry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​fan·​try ˈin-fən-trē How to pronounce infantry (audio)
plural infantries
: a branch of an army made up of soldiers trained, armed, and equipped to fight on foot

from early French infanterie and early Italian infanteria, both meaning "infantry," from early Italian infante "infant, boy, foot soldier," from Latin infans "infant"

Word Origin
In the Middle Ages in France, a young soldier from a good family who was not yet a knight was called enfant, which means "child." Likewise, in Italy a soldier moving on foot behind a knight riding a horse was an infante. Later, Italian foot soldiers as a group became known as infanteria, which was borrowed into French as infanterie and into English as infantry.
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