Definition of Zouave in US English:



  • 1A member of a light-infantry corps in the French army, originally formed of Algerians and long retaining their oriental uniform.

    • ‘The Zouaves, more often than not, maintained order or formed honour guards on great occasions, the most recent being the pope's visit to Quebec in 1984.’
    • ‘In an attempt to avoid further bloodshed Pius asked his own army, the Zouaves, to lay down their arms, fled the Quirinal (papal palace) and shut himself up in the Vatican.’
    • ‘Assigned to the 12th Regiment of Zouaves, Folcher had spent much of the Phoney War on exercises, moving around frequently and eventually being assigned in March to a sector of the line behind the Ardennes.’
    • ‘I have taken information on French zouaves in World War I from Men at Arms Series 286: The French Army 1914-18.’
    • ‘Then we saw coming towards us the French Zouaves.’
    • ‘Her father, Jules-Joseph, a retired army captain of the Zouaves who had lost a leg in the Italian wars, was a tax-collector with local political aspirations.’
    • ‘From the hills above watched British infantry dressed in the kilts of the Highlanders (whose bonnets may have been inspired by North American Indians), and French zouaves in the turbans of North African Berbers.’
    • ‘The zouaves enjoyed an immense popularity under the Second Empire that was owed to more than their exotic accouterments.’
    1. 1.1 A member of a light-infantry unit patterned on the French Zouaves, especially in the Union Army in the Civil War.
      • ‘Instead of abandoning Washington for Springfield at a time when other wives of public men were returning home to safety, she grew accustomed to living with soldiers, from the Frontier Guards and the Zouaves camped in the East Room.’
      • ‘Others served in the Louisiana Zouaves Battalion, the Spanish Legion of the European Brigade, and the Spanish Guard of Mobile, Ala.’
  • 2zouavesWomen's trousers with wide tops, tapering to a narrow ankle.


Mid 19th century: from French, from Kabyle Zouaoua, the name of a tribe.