also janisary, "elite Turkish infantry," 1520s, from French janissaire (15c.), from Italian giannizzero, from Turkish yenicheri, literally "new troops," from yeni "new." The second element means "soldiery, but is said to have been conformed to the Italian form from an original Turkish asker (plural asakir) "army, soldier," from Arabic 'askar "army, troop." Formed 1362 from slaves and prisoners of war, until late 17c. largely recruited from converts to Islam and by compulsory conscription of Christian subjects. In later times Turks and other Muslims joined the corps because of the various privileges attached to it; it was abolished 1826. Related: Janizarian; Janisarian.
updated on December 08, 2020