Definition of cataphract in US English:



  • A soldier in full armor.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The cataphracts were introduced into the Seleukid army in the Hellenistic era.’
    • ‘Defensively the cataphracts would protect the Roman flanks and rear from enemy cavalry attacks, both by arrow volleys and close range combat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, its importance should not be overemphasized, for very effective heavy cavalry - notably the cataphracts of the Byzantine empire - had coped well without it.’


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