short rifle (in 19c. especially one adapted for mounted troops), 1580s, from French carabine (Middle French carabin), used of light horsemen and also of the weapon they carried; it is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin Calabrinus "Calabrian" (i.e., "rifle made in Calabria"). A less-likely theory (Gamillscheg, etc.) connects it to Old French escarrabin "corpse-bearer during the plague," literally (probably) "carrion beetle," said to have been an epithet for archers from Flanders.
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