Definition of janissary in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdʒanɪs(ə)ri/
(also janizary /ˈdʒanɪz(ə)ri/)

noun (plural janissaries)

1A member of the Turkish infantry forming the Sultan’s guard between the 14th and 19th centuries.
Example sentences
  • An estimated 100,000 Slovenians perished and an equal number of young boys and girls were taken to Turkey where boys were trained as Turkish soldiers (janizaries) and the girls were put into harems.
  • The soldiers formed the celebrated corps of the janissaries (Turkish Yeni cheri, ‘new troops’) These infantrymen took to the use of handguns in the form of arquebuses and, later, the more manageable early forms of musket.
  • In 1801 janissaries in league with Pasvanoglu seized Belgrade and the terror that followed provoked a rising of Serbs in February 1804 led by Karageorge, a cattle merchant who had seen service in the Habsburg armies.
1.1A devoted follower or supporter.
Example sentences
  • By supplementing and supporting Western militarism around the globe, third world peacekeepers serve as the West's janissaries for the post-Cold War world.
  • Tony Blair has had no such confrontation, largely because his government accedes to almost every demand from big business and its janissaries.


Early 16th century: from French janissaire, based on Turkish yeniçeri, from yeni 'new' + çeri 'troops'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: jan¦is|sary

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.