Definition of Mameluke in English:



  • A member of a regime that formerly ruled parts of the Middle East. Descended from slaves, they ruled Syria (1260–1516) and Egypt (1250–1517), and continued as a ruling military caste in Ottoman Egypt until massacred by the viceroy Muhammad Ali in 1811.

    • ‘But in a major battle, 1,000 of his cavalry would defeat 1,500 Mamelukes.’
    • ‘Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mameluke Empire around 1260.’
    • ‘In 1517 the Ottoman Turks captured Cairo and overthrew the Mamelukes.’
    • ‘The battle was over in less than an hour and the Mamelukes fled, never again a force to be reckoned with.’
    • ‘He ruled absolutely and brutally and kept the rival Mamelukes under his thumb completely.’
    • ‘I suspect this may be due to Turkish or Mameluke influence.’
    • ‘This time he was permitted to take with him a group of courtiers and a dozen servants - his Mameluke bodyguard, a butler, a cook, three valets, three footmen, an accountant, a pantryman, and a lamp cleaner.’
    • ‘Michael Dummett proposes that the Mameluke cards originated from the Indian card game of Ganjifa.’
    • ‘In the 1770s the Mamelukes came to power in Egypt under the nominal overlordship of the Ottoman Turks.’
    • ‘France was on friendly terms with Turkey, and Egypt was at least nominally part of the Sultan's empire, though in fact it was ruled by the Mamelukes.’
    • ‘The Mamelukes gradually rose to power through government service before seizing control of Egypt in 1250.’
    • ‘Up to fourteen thousand Mamelukes and a huge army were defeated by treachery and artillery.’
    • ‘In Egypt, the Mamelukes actually seized power.’
    • ‘However, the Mamelukes learned of this conspiracy, rose up against the governor and exiled him to Jaffa.’
    • ‘Remarkable for their courage, pride, and cruelty, the Mamelukes waited fearlessly for the French armies.’
    • ‘For the next 1,300 years, a succession of Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman caliphs, beys, and sultans ruled the country.’
    • ‘It previously belonged to the Mamelukes, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks, and then Britain.’
    • ‘For his bravery in battle the Pasha's brother presented him with a jeweled sword that was the model for the Mameluke sword that Marine officers carry to this very day.’
    • ‘Giovanni Mansueti's painting, St. Peter Baptizing Anianus, depicts Ottomans and Mamelukes mingling with Venetians.’
    • ‘At the end of the day, the Mameluke army had lost 5,000 men, while losses on the French side were barely 300.’


From French mameluk, from Arabic mamlūk (passive participle used as a noun meaning ‘slave’), from malaka ‘possess’.