1570s, from French infantrie, infanterie (16c.), from older Italian or Spanish infanteria "foot soldiers, force composed of those too inexperienced or low in rank to be cavalry," a collective noun from infante "foot soldier," originally "a youth," from Latin infantem (see infant). Meaning "infants collectively" is recorded from 1610s. A Middle English (c. 1200) word for "foot-soldiers" was going-folc, literally "going-folk."
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