c. 1400, also brigaunt, "lightly armed irregular foot-soldier," from Old French brigand (14c.), from Italian brigante "trooper, skirmisher, foot soldier," from brigare "to brawl, fight" (see brigade). Sense of "robber, freebooter, one who lives by pillaging" is earlier in English (late 14c.), reflecting the lack of distinction between professional mercenary armies and armed, organized criminals.
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