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soldier definition


This page has 18 definitions of soldier in English. Soldier is a noun and verb. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Soldier



Alternative forms


From Middle English soudeour, from Old French soudier or soudeour (mercenary), from Medieval Latin soldarius (soldier (one having pay)), from Late Latin solidus, a type of coin. Displaced Old English cempa (whence obsolete kemp).



soldier (plural soldiers)

  1. A member of a ground-based army, of any rank, but especially an enlisted member.
    • 1577, Raphaell Holinshed, “[The Historie of Irelande [].] The Thirde Booke of the Historie of Ireland, Comprising the Raigne of Henry the Eyght: [...].”, in The Firste Volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande [], volume I, London: [] [Henry Bynneman] for Iohn Hunne, →OCLC, pages 77–78, column 2:
      The Citizens in their rage, imagining that euery poſt in the Churche had bin one of ye Souldyers, ſhot habbe or nabbe at randon[sic – meaning random] uppe to the Roode lofte, and to the Chancell, leauing ſome of theyr arrowes ſticking in the Images.
    • 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
      I am a soldier and unapt to weep.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Captain Edward Carlisle, soldier as he was, martinet as he was, felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, her alluring smile ; he could not tell what this prisoner might do.
    • 2012 August 1, Owen Gibson, London 2012: rowers Glover and Stanning win Team GB's first gold medal[1], Guardian Unlimited:
      Stanning, who was commissioned from Sandhurst in 2008 and has served in Afghanistan, is not the first soldier to bail out the organisers at these Games but will be among the most celebrated.
  2. (by extension, nonstandard) Any member of a military, regardless of specialty.
  3. An enlisted member of a military service, as distinguished from a commissioned officer.
    • 1596 (date written; published 1633), Edmund Spenser, A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande [], Dublin: [] Societie of Stationers, [], →OCLC; republished as A View of the State of Ireland [] (Ancient Irish Histories), Dublin: [] Society of Stationers, [] Hibernia Press, [] [b]y John Morrison, 1809, →OCLC:
      It were meet that any one, before he came to be a captain, should have been a soldier.
  4. A guardsman.
  5. A member of the Salvation Army.
  6. A low-ranking gangster or member of a gang, especially the mafia, who engages in physical conflict.
  7. (Britain, Australia, New Zealand) A piece of buttered bread (or toast), cut into a long thin strip for dipping into a soft-boiled egg.
    • 2008, Nicholas Drayson, A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, page 180:
      Beside his egg was a plate of buttered toast, already cut up into soldiers.
  8. A term of approbation for a young boy.
  9. Someone who fights or toils well.
    • 2004, Eminem, "Like Toy Soldiers", Encore, Shady Records
      [L]et 'em know how important it is to have Runyon Avenue soldiers up in our corners; their loyalty to us is worth more than any award is.
  10. The red or cuckoo gurnard (Chelidonichthys cuculus).
  11. One of the asexual polymorphic forms of termites, in which the head and jaws are very large and strong. The soldiers serve to defend the nest.
  12. (slang, dated) A red herring (cured kipper with flesh turned red).
  13. (xiangqi) A xiangqi piece that moves and captures by advancing one point. Once it has crossed the river, it may also move and capture one point horizontally.
  14. One of the bricks in a course of brickwork that are laid vertically on their shortest ends, so that their narrowest edges face the outside of the wall.


Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


soldier (third-person singular simple present soldiers, present participle soldiering, simple past and past participle soldiered)

  1. (intransitive) To continue steadfast; to keep striving.
  2. (intransitive) To serve as a soldier.
  3. (intransitive) To intentionally restrict labor productivity; to work at the slowest rate that goes unpunished.
  4. (transitive, slang) To take a ride on (another person's horse) without permission.
    • 1917, Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, After many days: being the reminiscences of Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh:
      It was the first time I had ever “soldiered” a horse. Soldiering means using a horse without the owner's leave or knowledge. Two of our lost horses we never found. Probably some one was soldiering them!

Usage notes

Originally from the way that conscripts may approach following orders. Usage less prevalent in the era of all-volunteer militaries.


Derived terms


See also

Xiangqi pieces in English (see also: xiangqi) (layout · text)
general advisor elephant horse chariot cannon soldier

Further reading