Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An Ottoman (Turkish empire) cavalryman, especially as recruited under a land-based system.
  • n. A soldier in a mainly Arab-recruited cavalry (originally horse, later light armored) regiment in French colonial service in (former/ in name still) Ottoman North African provinces

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Formerly, one of the Turkish cavalry.
  • n. An Algerian cavalryman in the French army.

Etymologies

From French spahi, from Turkish sipahi, from Persian سپاهی (sepâhi) ‘horseman, soldier’ (> English sepoy), from سپاه (sepâh) ‘army’. (Wiktionary)

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