member of a French light infantry troop, 1848, from French, from Arabic Zwawa, from Berber Igawawaen, name of a Kabyle tribe in Algeria, from which the zouaves originally were recruited in 1831. The military units soon became exclusively French but served only in Algeria until 1854 and were "distinguished for their dash, intrepidity, and hardihood, and for their peculiar drill and showy Oriental uniform" [Century Dictionary]. Some Northern regiments in the American Civil War adopted the name and elements of the uniform. The women's fashionable zouave jacket (1859) also is based on the uniform.
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