cav·​al·​cade | \ ˌka-vəl-ˈkād How to pronounce cavalcade (audio) , ˈka-vəl-ˌkād \

Definition of cavalcade

1a : a procession (see procession entry 1 sense 1) of riders or carriages
b : a procession of vehicles or ships
2 : a dramatic sequence or procession : series a cavalcade of natural disasters

Synonyms for cavalcade


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The History of Cavalcade

When cavalcade was first used in English, it meant "a horseback ride" or "a march or raid made on horseback." Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, used it this way in his 1647 History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England: "He had with some Troops, made a Cavalcade or two into the West." From there came the "procession of riders" meaning and eventual applications to processions in a broader sense. Cavalcade came to English via French from the Old Italian noun cavalcata, which in turn came from an Old Italian verb, cavalcare, meaning "to go on horseback." Ultimately, these words came from the Latin word caballus, meaning "horse." The combining form cade also appears in other words describing particular kinds of processions, such as motorcade or the less common aquacade.

Examples of cavalcade in a Sentence

The cavalcade arrived at the hotel. a cavalcade of antique cars a cavalcade of natural disasters
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Recent Examples on the Web One species within this cavalcade is the prehistoric mega-predator megalodon. Michele Herrmann, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021 Once again this year, one after another, a cavalcade of newsmakers, prominent guests, celebrities, interesting people, and controversial people sat down across from Rogan for a multi-hour-long conversation. Andy Meek, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 The actress was among the cavalcade of stars in the third installment of Live in Front of a Studio Audience, playing Blair Warner during a recreation of a Facts of Life episode. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 9 Dec. 2021 But the real breakouts of this epic cavalcade — besides Billy Bob Thornton (Goliath) as U.S. Marshal Jim Courtright — are the realistic locales. Lynette Rice,, 5 Nov. 2021 On Sunday, the day after the missionaries were kidnapped, the Haitian government’s cavalcade came under gunfire and sped off before the prime minister could attend the ceremony honoring the nation’s founding father. New York Times, 21 Oct. 2021 It’s a cavalcade of characters, with the adults of the group mostly knowing each other from earlier days while Sophie and Alex cause tension as the group’s outsiders. Jeff Ewing, Forbes, 7 Oct. 2021 Pandemonium in the sanctuary now, hollering, screeching, chairs overturning and a cavalcade of frantic people pushing each other forward, backward, somewhere, anywhere. Peter Orner, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 In both series, vacationers arriving in a tropical paradise – played by a cavalcade of familiar guest stars – are greeted by the island's steward, who channels the island's supernatural powers to help grant impossible wishes. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cavalcade.' 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 cavalcade

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for cavalcade

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" + Late 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.

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The first known use of cavalcade was in 1644

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cavalcade.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for cavalcade



English Language Learners Definition of cavalcade

: a line of riders, vehicles, etc., moving along in the same direction
: a series of related things


cav·​al·​cade | \ ˌka-vəl-ˈkād How to pronounce cavalcade (audio) \

Kids Definition of cavalcade

1 : a procession especially of riders or carriages
2 : a dramatic series (as of related events)

More from Merriam-Webster on cavalcade

Nglish: Translation of cavalcade for Spanish Speakers


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