Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A member of a people of southern European Russia and adjacent parts of Asia, noted as cavalrymen especially during czarist times.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A member or descendant of an originally (semi-)nomadic population of Eastern Europe and the adjacent parts of Asia, that eventually settled in parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian tsarist Empire (where they constituted a legendary military caste) and the Soviet Union, particularly in areas now comprising southern Russia and Ukraine.
  • n. A cossack, member of a military unit (typically cavalry, originally recruited exclusively from the above)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a warlike, pastoral people, skillful as horsemen, inhabiting different parts of the Russian empire and furnishing valuable contingents of irregular cavalry to its armies, those of Little Russia and those of the Don forming the principal divisions.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of a military people inhabiting the steppes of Russia along the lower Don and about the Dnieper, and in lesser numbers in eastern Russia, Caucasia, Siberia, and elsewhere.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a member of a Slavic people living in southern European Russia and Ukraine and adjacent parts of Asia and noted for their horsemanship and military skill; they formed an elite cavalry corps in czarist Russia

Etymologies

Russian kazak and Ukrainian kozak, both from South Turkic qazaq, adventurer; see Kazakh.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1600, French cosaque, from Russian казак (kazák) and Ukrainian козак (kozák), from Turkish qazaq ("free man, wanderer"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The voice, descriptions and tight pacing in those books contributed to creating a world away that enthralled young adults yearning to ride out boldly toward swashbuckling adventure, and Khlit the Cossack was the Harold Lamb character readers wanted to ride with the most.

    The WritingYA Weblog: Buckle Your Swash: Under Radar Reccomendations

  • A militia car swung into the space beside Yakov's battered Nissan, and Captain Marchenko emerged slowly, perhaps posing for a painting called The Cossack at Dawn, Arkady thought.

    Wolves Eat Dogs

  • He called the Cossack with his horse, told him to put away the knapsack and flask, and swung his heavy person easily into the saddle.

    War and Peace

  • True, Mazepa was well educated, a patron of the local arts and of the Orthodox Church, and he gave his name to the ornate style known as Cossack Baroque of the many churches built under his aegis.

    Are Hetmen Heroes?

  • Little did I dream, however, that at a place called Cossack, on the coast of the North-West Division of Western Australia, there was a settlement of pearl-fishers; so that, had I only known it, civilisation -- more or less -- was comparatively near.

    The Adventures of Louis De Rougemont

  • To leave the house at night one has to call the Cossack, for otherwise the dogs would tear one to bits.

    Letters of Anton Chekhov

  • Musil's "Cossack" analogy is deeply flawed, and if his faint suggestion of anti-Semitism on my part was intentional then I resent it.

    Lessig on Copyright, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • From then on in Russia, as a result of state propaganda, the word "Cossack," whether signifying a people or a caste, became a byword among many non-Cossacks for Orthodox extremism, the reactionary, and the retrograde.

    Russia's Holy Warriors

  • Tonight he was wearing another uniform, but it was also pretty military looking, in a kind of Cossack way.

    All Together Dead

  • "Cossack," but forebore making any reply on the instant.

    Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal or Perils of the Black Bear Patrol

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