December 02, 2012
- chivalry (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : the system or practices of knighthood2 : the spirit or character of the ideal knight
- How do you use it?
- "But there is nobleness in the name of Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown; of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections." (Jane Austen, _Mansfield Park_)
- Are you a word wiz?
For many people, the word "chivalry" conjures up images of knights in shining armor riding on horseback. Keep that in mind and try to guess when "chivalry" entered English."Chivalry" entered English about 700 years ago, during the Middle Ages. Back then, French speakers used the word "chevalier" to mean "knight" or "horseman." (This word is derived from the Latin word "caballarius," meaning "horseman," which in turn comes from "caballus," the Latin word for "horse.") Knights were supposed to follow a code of conduct that required them to be brave, dutiful, and kind. The French word for these qualities was "chevalerie." By the 14th century, English speakers had adopted the French "chevalerie" as "chivalrie" to describe their own well-armored warriors. In time, "chivalrie" acquired our current spelling, "chivalry."