Definition of poilu in English:

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poilu

Pronunciation: /pwʌˈluː/
/pwaly/

noun

historical, informal
An infantry soldier in the French army, especially one who fought in the First World War.
Example sentences
  • It coincides with a large number of books and exhibitions about the poilus, as French soldiers in the great war were known.
  • The French poilus accepted and respected that American icon.
  • In contrast with the pre-1914 view that the French soldier, with his singular élan, performed best in the attack, they took the doggedness of the poilu in defence at Verdun in 1916 as their guide.

Origin

French, literally 'hairy', by extension 'brave', whiskers being associated with virility.

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