Definition of cataphract in English:



  • A soldier in full armour.

    • ‘Defensively the cataphracts would protect the Roman flanks and rear from enemy cavalry attacks, both by arrow volleys and close range combat.’
    • ‘However, its importance should not be overemphasized, for very effective heavy cavalry - notably the cataphracts of the Byzantine empire - had coped well without it.’
    • ‘The later kings become increasingly heavily armored in this period and it is more than likely that the heavy cataphracts often discussed reaches numbers that are truly significant on the battlefield.’
    • ‘The cataphracts were introduced into the Seleukid army in the Hellenistic era.’
    • ‘Roman cataphracts wore similar armour from the second century ad, and transmitted the tradition of armouring arms and legs to the heaviest units of the Byzantine cavalry.’


Late 17th century: via Latin from Greek kataphraktos ‘clothed in full armour’.