Today’s random English question


…to the reader-hivemind: if I call a soldier a “knight”, does this mean that he *has* to have a horse or be mounted on one?
The equivalent French and Spanish words are “chevalier” and “caballero”, which are formed from the root of “cheval” and “caballo” respectively, suggesting that possession of a horse is imperative. “Knight”, insofar as I can see, doesn’t have that connotation, but maybe it’s irreversibly acquired it by now?


  1. Apparently, the word ‘knight’ comes from the German word for servant. So, linguistically, no horses involved. However, medieval knights were the mounted cavalry of the army and a great deal of their training involved learning to keep and ride horses. Of course, you had to supply your own horse. Given the ‘job’ of the knights was as mounted warriors, you’d probably need to have one. I mean, linguistically ‘driver’ doesn’t imply car owner but you kind of need a car do to it…

    My sources:

  2. Lool. I guess you did need a horse to be a knight 🙂 Thanks!
    The problem I had was whether “Jaguar Knight” was an accurate designation for the Aztec elite order: it’s all well and good as an indicator of rank, but the Aztecs never had horses…

  3. I think that it would probably be a good designation. “Knight” simply implied a rank of nobility. It was the successor of the Roman class called the “equites”, which literally means “horsemen”; however, there was also a senatorial class, and not every member of said class was actually IN the Senate. European knights had horses, but I think you could use the term for an order and be completely safe.

  4. OK, cool, thanks a lot! Big relief to know I haven’t been misusing the term too much…

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