Thursday, November 27, 2008


Recent news reports mentioned that Detroit automakers are going to form a cavalcade of fuel-efficient vehicles and drive them to Washington, D.C., to convince lawmakers to bail them out. It’s their attempt to atone for Jetgate, but it’s still a lot of horsepower.

Buried in the word cavalcade is the Latin word for horse, caballus. Originally, a cavalcade was a procession on horseback, especially on a festive or solemn occasion. The word was also loosely used for a procession of carriages, so the Big Three will be honoring an ancient tradition.

Cavalier (and its many permutations) referred to a horseman, especially a knight or horse-soldier. The Spanish equivalent was the caballero.

In Louisiana and Texas, cavallard was a term used by the caravans which cross the prairies to denote a band of horses or mules. In the southwest, caballada was a herd or train of horses or mules.

Cavallarice was once in vogue to designate horsemanship, and a cavallerize was a riding-master or professor of horsemanship. While it’s not used too often these days, caballine is an adjective equivalent to equine.

Cavalry, of course, is the collective name for horse-soldiers, that part of a military force which consists of mounted troops. In contrast, infantry consisted of foot soldiers.

SIDEBAR: U.S. Cavalry Association

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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