cavalry


cavalry
/kav"euhl ree/, n., pl. cavalries.
1. Mil.
a. the part of a military force composed of troops that serve on horseback.
b. mounted soldiers collectively.
c. the motorized, armored units of a military force organized for maximum mobility.
2. horsemen, horses, etc., collectively.
[1585-95; syncopated var. of cavallery < It cavalleria, deriv. of cavaliere CAVALIER]

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Military force mounted on horseback, formerly an important element in the armies of all major powers.

When used in combination with other military forces, its main duties included gathering information about the enemy, screening movements of its own army, pursuing a defeated enemy, striking suddenly at detected weak points, turning exposed flanks, and exploiting a penetration or breakthrough. In the late 19th century, largely because of the introduction of repeating rifles and machine guns, cavalry lost much of its former value. By World War I, a cavalry charge against a line of entrenched troops with rapid-firing small arms was suicidal. Armoured vehicles soon replaced horses, and by the 1950s no modern army had horse-mounted units. Today's units designated "cavalry" employ helicopters and light armoured vehicles in ways analogous to horse cavalry.

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      military force mounted on horseback (horse), formerly an important element in the armies of all major powers. When employed as part of a combined military formation, its main duties included observing and reporting information about the enemy, screening movements of its own force, pursuing and demoralizing a defeated enemy, maintaining a constant threat to an enemy's rear area, striking suddenly at detected weak points, turning exposed flanks, and exploiting a penetration or breakthrough.

      During the latter part of the 19th century, largely as a result of the introduction of repeating rifles and machine guns, the cavalry lost much of its former value. By the time of World War I, a cavalry charge against entrenched troops armed with rapid-firing small arms was suicidal. Cavalry organizations soon abandoned horses for armoured fighting vehicles and became known as mechanized cavalry or armoured cavalry. By the 1950s there were no horse-mounted cavalry units in either the U.S. or British armies. In the early 1960s the United States converted its 1st Cavalry Division to an “air mobile” division, with helicopters and air-portable weapons and vehicles. The division saw extensive service in Vietnam.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cavalry — Cav al*ry, n. [F. cavalerie, fr. It. cavalleria. See {Cavalier}, and cf. {chivalry}.] (Mil.) That part of military force which serves on horseback. [1913 Webster] Note: {Heavy cavalry} and {light cavalry} are so distinguished by the character of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cavalry — 1540s, from M.Fr. cavalerie (16c.), from It. cavalleria mounted militia, from cavaliere (see CAVALIER (Cf. cavalier)). An O.E. word for it was horshere …   Etymology dictionary

  • cavalry — [n] troops riding horses army, bowlegs*, chasseurs, cuirassiers, dragoons, horse, horse soldiers, hussars, lancers, mounted troops, Mounties, rangers, squadron, uhlans; concept 322 …   New thesaurus

  • cavalry — ► NOUN (pl. cavalries) (usu. treated as pl. ) ▪ soldiers who fight on horses or in armoured vehicles. DERIVATIVES cavalryman noun. ORIGIN Italian cavalleria, from cavallo horse …   English terms dictionary

  • cavalry — [kav′əl rē] n. pl. cavalries [Fr cavalerie < It cavalleria < cavaliere: see CAVALIER] combat troops mounted originally on horses but now often riding in motorized armored vehicles cavalryman [kav′əl rēmən] n. cavalrymen [kav′əl rēmən] …   English World dictionary

  • Cavalry — Cavalrymen redirects here. For the 1955 French film, see Les Hussards. French 4th Hussar at the battle of Friedland, 1807 …   Wikipedia

  • cavalry — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. horse soldiers, horsemen, dragoons, hussars; armored or mechanized cavalry. See combatant. II (Roget s IV) n. Syn. hussars, dragoons, rangers, light cavalry, heavy cavalry, air cavalry, Cossacks,… …   English dictionary for students

  • cavalry — [[t]kæ̱v(ə)lri[/t]] 1) N SING The cavalry is the part of an army that uses armoured vehicles for fighting. The Cavalry were exercising on Salisbury Plain. ...the US Army s 1st Cavalry Division. 2) N SING The cavalry is the group of soldiers in an …   English dictionary

  • cavalry — n. 1) to commit cavalry 2) heavy; light cavalry * * * [ kæv(ə)lrɪ] light cavalry heavy to commit cavalry …   Combinatory dictionary

  • cavalry — cav|al|ry [ kævəlri ] noun uncount in the past, the part of an army consisting of soldiers who rode horses a. used in the names of some groups in modern armies: the Queen s Household Cavalry the cavalry HUMOROUS people who come and solve all your …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English


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