Definition of haversack in US English:



  • A small, sturdy bag carried on the back or over the shoulder, used especially by soldiers and hikers.

    • ‘He set out with few possessions - just a haversack, a pair of shorts and a couple of jumpers.’
    • ‘Haver is the Yorkshire dialect word for oats from which the cakes were made and could also be the origin of the word haversack, part of a soldier's equipment used for carrying a ration of oatmeal.’
    • ‘If you don't attend many conferences you won't have noticed that it seems to be fashionable to give out rucksacks, backpacks and haversacks as freebies to delegates.’
    • ‘Each man had a blanket slung over the left shoulder, and carried a fair-leather bag or haversack.’
    • ‘Over one shoulder he carried a haversack full of food.’
    • ‘They walked with their webbing packed full of ammunition and in their haversacks they carried five days' bully beef and biscuits and a minimum of personal gear.’
    • ‘Each soldier usually started a movement with three days of food, pre-cooked, in his haversack.’
    • ‘His shoulders ached from hauling the haversack filled with things unnecessary; his right arm felt strained from the weight of that rifle.’
    • ‘Wearing wool uniforms and carrying haversacks and rifles that can weigh up to 30 pounds, they will march for miles under an oftentimes blazing summer sun.’
    • ‘She stuck her head out of the stall to see Arlan in a sweeping black cloak, a haversack over his shoulder, a scowl on his face.’
    • ‘He reached into his haversack, broke off a small bit of the army's version of a cracker, put it in his mouth and began to chew.’
    • ‘She'd packed beef sandwiches for lunch, tomato sandwiches for tea and she put them in a haversack which I carried.’
    • ‘Putting the haversack onto her shoulders, she walked briskly down the street, turning the first corner she saw.’
    • ‘Yuen picked up his haversack and slung it between his shoulders, each strap resting on each blade.’
    knapsack, rucksack, backpack, pack, kitbag
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century: from French havresac, from obsolete German Habersack, denoting a bag used by soldiers to carry oats as horse feed, from dialect Haber ‘oats’ + Sack ‘sack, bag’.