Cossacks (military).



  • A member or descendant of an originally (semi-)nomadic population of Eastern Europe and the adjacent parts of Asia, formed in part of runaways from neighbouring countries, that eventually settled in parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian tsarist Empire (where they constituted a legendary military caste), particularly in areas now comprising southern Russia and Ukraine.
  • A member of a military unit (typically cavalry, originally recruited exclusively from the above).
  • A Ukrainian.


  • Circa 1600, from Middle French cosaque, from Polish Kozak, from Ukrainian коза́к (cf. Russian каза́к or коза́к (older spelling)), from Kazakh казак, from a Turkic word quzzāq meaning “free man, wanderer," from Old Turkic *qazǧaq, from qazǧanmaq, from qazmaq, from Proto-Turkic *kaŕ-. Cognate with Kazakh.

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