Definition of Cossack in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkäsˌak/


1A member of a people of southern Russia and Ukraine, noted for their horsemanship and military skill.
Example sentences
  • The tale is set in the Ukraine, among the Cossacks of the great Zaporozhian Sech (a large fortified island encampment on the river Dnieper).
  • Thanks to the generosity of a number of local horsing enthusiasts the profile of the Cossacks and the skills they possess, can be viewed by members of the general public.
  • The original gauchos were an equestrian ethnic group similar to North American cowboys and Ukrainian Cossacks.
1.1A member of a Cossack military unit.
Example sentences
  • The Streltsy and the Cossacks were professional units but they were officered by foreigners.
  • He had infantry, cavalry, arquebusiers, Cossacks and many Tartars, with heavy artillery, which was shipped down the Volga.
  • In the old photos the cemetery hill is bare, but now it is wooded over, and the Hussars, Cossacks, infantrymen, grenadiers and all the rest are lying in the shade of the trees.

The Cossacks had their origins in the 14th century when refugees from religious persecution, outlaws, adventurers, and escaped serfs banded together in settlements for protection. Under the tsars they were allowed considerable autonomy in return for protecting the frontiers; with the collapse of Soviet rule, Cossack groups have reasserted their identity in both Russia and Ukraine.


Relating to or characteristic of the Cossacks.
Example sentences
  • On Saturday night I made a passable first attempt at Cossack dancing.
  • They chuck Arabic and Cossack riffs and countless other musical flavours at the sweat-soaked walls in the hope that some of them will stick.
  • Even when his bike wobbled, his barnet didn't thanks to gallons of Cossack hairspray.


Late 16th century: from Russian kazak from Turkic, 'vagabond, nomad'; later influenced by French Cosaque (see also Kazakh).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Cos·sack

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