One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who rides the leading nearside (left-hand side) horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, especially when there is no coachman.
attendant, retainerView synonyms
- ‘Measuring 24 ft long, 8ft wide and 12 ft high, the coach is drawn by eight greys, four mounted by postilion riders.’
- ‘It listed the stereotypical traits of 10 major European nations, enabling innkeepers and postillions to identify passing travellers.’
- ‘He became morose and silent; and his only occupation consisted in urging the speed of the postilions, as if he were going to save the life of some one he held dear.’
- ‘The cracking of the postillions ' whips, and the velocity with which they drove up to the door, brought out every man, woman and child, to gaze at the new comers, whose appearance sufficiently bespoke their errand.’
- ‘On the journey to London the carriage overturns, Thomas the postilion is bitten by Tabitha's ferocious and much-loved cur Chowder, and the destitute Humphry is engaged in Thomas's place.’
Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘forerunner acting as guide to the post-horse rider’): from French postillon, from Italian postiglione ‘post-boy’, from posta (see post).
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