One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: an Indian officer in a cavalry (occasionally also infantry) regiment of the British Indian Army, of a rank corresponding to captain in the British Army (now historical). Now: a mid-level junior commissioned officer in a cavalry or armoured regiment of the Indian Army.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), army officer and prime minister. From Urdu risāladār (pronounced risāldār) and its etymon Indian Persian risāladār from risāla troop of horse + -dār.
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