Definition of janissary in English:


(also janizary)


  • 1A member of the Turkish infantry forming the Sultan's guard between the 14th and 19th centuries.

    • ‘An estimated 100,000 Slovenians perished and an equal number of young boys and girls were taken to Turkey where boys were trained as Turkish soldiers (janizaries) and the girls were put into harems.’
    • ‘The soldiers formed the celebrated corps of the janissaries (Turkish Yeni cheri, ‘new troops’) These infantrymen took to the use of handguns in the form of arquebuses and, later, the more manageable early forms of musket.’
    • ‘By 1800, everybody was a janissary, as the corps was swollen to as many as 400,000 names, based on corrupt and marketable muster rolls, which supported a process of gentrification of the janissary families.’
    • ‘In 1801 janissaries in league with Pasvanoglu seized Belgrade and the terror that followed provoked a rising of Serbs in February 1804 led by Karageorge, a cattle merchant who had seen service in the Habsburg armies.’
    1. 1.1 A devoted follower or supporter.
      • ‘Tony Blair has had no such confrontation, largely because his government accedes to almost every demand from big business and its janissaries.’
      • ‘By supplementing and supporting Western militarism around the globe, third world peacekeepers serve as the West's janissaries for the post-Cold War world.’
      supporter, follower, adherent, devotee, champion, backer, upholder, promoter, fanatic, fan, enthusiast, stalwart, zealot, disciple, votary
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Early 16th century: from French janissaire, based on Turkish yeniçeri, from yeni ‘new’ + çeri ‘troops’.