Words related to chivalry

cavalier (n.)

1580s, "a horseman," especially if armed, from Italian cavalliere "mounted soldier, knight; gentleman serving as a lady's escort," from Late Latin caballarius "horseman," from Vulgar Latin *caballus, the common Vulgar Latin word for "horse" (and source of Italian cavallo, French cheval, Spanish caballo, Irish capall, Welsh ceffyl), displacing Latin equus (from PIE root *ekwo-).

In classical Latin caballus was "work horse, pack horse," sometimes, disdainfully, "hack, nag." This and Greek kaballion "workhorse," kaballes "nag" probably are loan-words, perhaps from an Anatolian language. The same source is thought to have yielded Old Church Slavonic kobyla.

The sense was extended in Elizabethan English to "a knight; a courtly gentleman," but also, pejoratively, "a swaggerer." Meaning "Royalist, adherent of Charles I" is from 1641. 


digraph used in Old French for the "tsh" sound. In some French dialects, including that of Paris (but not that of Picardy), Latin ca- became French "tsha." This was introduced to English after the Norman Conquest, in words borrowed from Old French such as chaste, charity, chief (adj.). Under French influence, -ch- also was inserted into Anglo-Saxon words that had the same sound (such as bleach, chest, church) which in Old English still was written with a simple -c-, and into those that had formerly been spelled with a -c- and pronounced "k" such as chin and much.

As French evolved, the "t" sound dropped out of -ch-, so in later loan-words from French -ch- has only the sound "sh-" (chauffeur, machine (n.), chivalry, etc.).

It turns up as well in words from classical languages (chaos, echo, etc.). Most uses of -ch- in Roman Latin were in words from Greek, which in Greek would be pronounced correctly as /k/ + /h/, as in modern blockhead, but most Romans would have said merely /k/, and this was the regular pronunciation in English. Before c. 1500 such words were regularly spelled with a -c- (Crist, cronicle, scoole), but Modern English has preserved or restored the etymological spelling in most of them (chemical, chorus, monarch). 

Sometimes ch- is written to keep -c- hard before a front vowel, as still in modern Italian. In some languages (Welsh, Spanish, Czech) ch- can be treated as a separate letter and words in it are alphabetized after -c- (or, in Czech and Slovak, after -h-). The sound also is heard in words from more distant languages (as in cheetah, chintz), and the digraph also is used to represent the sound in Scottish loch.

chivalresque (adj.)

"characterized by chivalry," 1800, from chivalry on analogy of French chevalresque.

chivalric (adj.)

"characteristic of chivalry, chivalrous," 1797, from chivalry + -ic. Pronounced by poets with accent on the middle syllable, and because they are the only ones who need it, that pronunciation might as well be accepted.

chivalrous (adj.)

mid-14c., "pertaining to chivalry or knight-errantry," from Old French chevaleros "knightly, noble, chivalrous," from chevalier (see chevalier; also compare chivalry). According to OED, obsolete in English and French from mid-16c. Not revived in French, but brought back in English 1770s by romantic writers with a sense of "having high qualities (gallantry, courage, magnanimity) supposed to be characteristic of chivalry." Related: Chivalrously; chivalrousness.