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An English-made dragoon (sense 1.1) or dragon found at a battlefield in Cerro Gordo, Veracruz, Mexico, the site of the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847, during the Mexican–American War.[n 1]
Édouard Detaille, Le Trophée (The Trophy, 1896),[n 2] which depicts a French dragoon (sense 1.2) with a captured Prussian flag at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806.
A dragoon pigeon (sense 3).

The noun is borrowed from French dragon (dragon (mythological creature); type of cavalry soldier, dragoon) (originally referring to a soldier armed with the firearm of the same name (sense 1.1)),[1] ultimately from Latin dracō (dragon; kind of serpent or snake), from Ancient Greek δρᾰ́κων (drákōn, dragon; serpent), possibly from δέρκομαι (dérkomai, to see, see clearly (in the sense of something staring)), from Proto-Indo-European *derḱ- (to see)). Doublet of Draco and dragon.

The verb is either derived:[2]



dragoon (plural dragoons)

  1. (military)
    1. (weaponry, historical) Synonym of dragon (a type of musket with a short, large-calibre barrel and a flared muzzle, metaphorically exhaling fire like a mythical dragon)
      • 1622, Francis Markham, “Epist[le] 5. To the Right Honorable William Lord Peter of Writtle. The Argument. Of the Captaine of Horse.”, in Five Decades of Epistles of Warre, London: [] Augustine Matthewes, →OCLC, decad 4, pages 137–138:
        [A] Lieutenant of a Troupe of compleat armed French Piſtoliers, is reputed better in degree then a Captaine of an hundred Foot, a Lieutenant of the late inuented Dragoones (being not aboue ſixteene inche Barrell, and full Muſquet bore) the Foot-Captaines equall, and the Lieutenant of a Troupe of Harquebuſsiers or Carbines his immediate younger brother.
    2. (by extension) Originally (historical), a soldier armed with a dragoon musket (sense 1.1) who fought both on foot and mounted on a horse; now, a cavalier or horse soldier from a regiment formerly armed with such muskets.
      • 1622, Francis Markham, “Epist[le] 1. To the Right Honourable William Lord Evers. The Argument. Of the Officers of Caualarie.”, in Five Decades of Epistles of Warre, London: [] Augustine Matthewes, →OCLC, decad 3, page 83:
        [T]he Lovv-countries haue produced another ſort of Horſe-men, vvhich their experience there haue found out to be of notable vſe, and they call them Dragoons, vvhich I knovv not vvhether I may tearme them Foot-Horſe-men, or Horſe-Footmen: for they are Muſquetiers on horſebacke, and are imployed for the taking and maintaining, or at leaſt for preuenting the enemy from taking of Paſſages or Foords vvhich leade ouer Riuers: []
      • 1677, Tho[mas] Herbert, Some Yeares Travels into Divers Parts of Africa, and Asia the Great. [], 4th edition, London: [] R. Everingham, for R. Scot, T. Basset, J[ohn] Wright, and R. Chiswell, →OCLC, page 287:
        [Y]oung Emir-Hamza-mirza Abbas his eldeſt on (inheriting his Uncles vertue as vvell as name) vvith a ſtrong body of Horſe and Dragoons confronting the Baſſa near to Sultany gave him ſuch a bruſh that the Turk retreated as far back as Van: []
      • 1686 June 12 (Gregorian calendar), John Evelyn, “[Diary entry for 2 June 1686]”, in William Bray, editor, Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, [], 2nd edition, volume I, London: Henry Colburn, []; and sold by John and Arthur Arch, [], published 1819, →OCLC, page 629:
        The French persecution more inhuman than ever. The Protestants in Savoy successfully resist the French dragoons sent to murder them.
      • 1692 November 6 (Gregorian calendar), John Tillotson, “Sermon XLI. A Thanksgiving-sermon for the Late Victory at Sea. Preached before the King and Queen at Whitehall, October 27. 1692. Jer[emiah] IX. 23, 24.”, in The Works of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: [], 8th edition, London: [] T. Goodwin, B[enjamin] Tooke, and J. Pemberton, []; J. Round [], and J[acob] Tonson] [], published 1720, →OCLC, page 416:
        No man ſhall ever perſuade me, no not the Biſhop of Meaux [Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet] vvith all his Eloquence, that Priſons and Tortures, Dragoons and the Galleys, are proper means to convince the Underſtanding, and either Chriſtian or Human methods of converting men to the true Religion.
      • [1720], [Daniel Defoe], “Part I”, in Memoirs of a Cavalier: Or A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England; from the Year 1632, to the Year 1648. [], London: [] A. Bell [], J. Osborn [], W[illiam] Taylor [], and T. Warner [], →OCLC, page 126:
        A German Dragoon as I thought him, gave me a rude Blovv vvith the Stock of his Piece on the Side of my Head, and vvas juſt going to repeat it, vvhen one of my Men ſhot him dead.
      • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter III, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume I, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, pages 294–295:
        Near the capital lay also the corps which is now designated as the first regiment of dragoons on the English establishment. [] A single troop of dragoons, which did not form part of any regiment, was stationed near Berwick, for the purpose of keeping the peace among the mosstroopers of the border. For this species of service the dragoon was then thought to be peculiarly qualified. He has since become a mere horse soldier. But in the seventeenth century he was accurately described by Montecuculi as a foot soldier, who used a horse only in order to arrive with more speed at the place where military service was to be performed.
      • 1852 March – 1853 September, Charles Dickens, “Steel and Iron”, in Bleak House, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1853, →OCLC, page 602:
        I have served as a Dragoon in my day; and a comrade of mine that I was once rather partial to, was, if I don't deceive myself, a brother of yours.
      • 1881 April 23 (first performance), W[illiam] S[chwenck] Gilbert, librettist; Arthur Sullivan, composer, “Solo—Colonel, & Chorus of Dragoons (No. 3)”, in [] Patience or, Bunthorne’s Bride, New York, N.Y.: Hitchcock Publishing House [], published 1881, →OCLC, Act I, page 23:
        If you want a receipt for that popular mystery, / Known to the world as a Heavy Dragoon, / Take all the remarkable people in history, / Rattle them off to a popular tune.
      • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “A Dream Ends”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC, page 43:
        His forefathers had been, as a rule, professional men—physicians and lawyers; his grandfather died under the walls of Chapultepec Castle while twisting a tourniquet for a cursing dragoon; an uncle remained indefinitely at Malvern Hill; an only brother at Montauk Point having sickened in the trenches before Santiago.
  2. (by extension) A man with a fierce or unrefined manner, like a dragoon (sense 1.2).
    • 1712 November 22 (Gregorian calendar), [Richard Steele], “TUESDAY, November 11, 1712”, in The Spectator, number 533; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume VI, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, pages 86–87:
      [T]o my great surprise two persons in the habit of gentlemen attacked me with such indecent discourse as I cannot repeat to you, so you may conclude not fit for me to hear. [] [F]ancy your wife or daughter, if you had any, in such circumstances, and what treatment you would then think due to such dragoons.
      The spelling has been modernized.
    • 1856, R[alph] W[aldo] Emerson, “Race”, in English Traits, Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson, and Company, →OCLC, page 68:
      The Normans came out of France into England worse men than they went into it, one hundred and sixty years before. [] These founders of the House of Lords were greedy and ferocious dragoons, sons of greedy and ferocious pirates.
  3. A variety of pigeon, originally a cross between a horseman and a tumbler.
    • 1828, William Clarke, “The Fancier: Singing Birds; Silkworms; Rabbits; Guinea Pigs; White Mice; Pigeons; Bantams”, in The Boy’s Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of All the Diversions, Athletic, Scientific, and Recreative, of Boyhood and Youth, London: Vizetelly, Branston and Co., →OCLC, page 212:
      Dragoons were originally bred between a Tumbler and a Horseman; by frequently matching them with the Horseman, they will acquire very great strength and agility. [] One of the principal beauties of the Dragoon is the straightness of the top of its skull, and that of its beak, which ought almost to make a horizontal line with each other.
    • 1851, Henry Mayhew, “Of the Street-sellers of Live Animals”, in London Labour and the London Poor; [], volume II (The London Street-folk. Book the Second.), London: [Griffin, Bohn, and Company], →OCLC, page 64, column 1:
      Since the prevalence of low wages the weaver's garden has disappeared, and his pigeon-cote, even if its timbers have not rotted away, is no longer stocked with carriers, dragoons, horsemen, jacobins, monks, poulters, turtles, tumblers, fantails, and the many varieties of what is in itself a variety—the fancy-pigeon.

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dragoon (third-person singular simple present dragoons, present participle dragooning, simple past and past participle dragooned) (transitive)

  1. (Christianity, French politics, historical) To subject (a Huguenot) to the dragonnades (a policy instituted by Louis XIV of France in 1681 to intimidate Protestant Huguenots to convert to Roman Catholicism by billeting dragoons (noun sense 1.2) in their homes to abuse them and destroy or steal their possessions).
  2. (by extension)
    1. Chiefly followed by into: to force (someone) into doing something through harassment and intimidation; to coerce.
      Synonym: compel
      • 1689 May 24 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Mat[thew] Prior, “An Epistle to Fleetwood Shephard, Esq”, in Poems on Several Occasions, 2nd edition, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], published 1709, →OCLC, page 20:
        In Politicks, I hear, you're ſtanch, / Directly bent againſt the French; / Deny to have your free-born Toe / Dragoon'd into a VVooden Shoe: []
      • 1817, William Wirt, “Section III”, in Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, Philadelphia, Pa.: James Webster, []; William Brown, [], →OCLC, pages 78–79:
        The next step was that suggested by Mr. Townsend, of quartering large bodies of troops upon the chief towns in the colonies, and demanding of the several colonial legislatures, a provision for their comfortable support and accommodation. [] Their object was perfectly understood: it was to curb the just and honourable spirit of the people; to dragoon them into submission to the parliamentary claim of taxation, and reduce them to the condition of vassals, governed by the right of conquest.
      • 1859–1861, [Thomas Hughes], “The Storm Rages”, in Tom Brown at Oxford: [], part 1st, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, published 1861, →OCLC, page 258:
        [A]t any rate, he had shown Hardy that he wasn't to be dragooned into doing or not doing any thing.
      • 1872 July 22, Carl Schurz, “Why anti-Grant and pro-Greeley”, in Frederic Bancroft, editor, Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz [], volumes II (December 13, 1870 – February 27, 1874), New York, N.Y.; London: G[eorge] P[almer] Putnam’s Sons; The Knickerbocker Press, published 1913, page 405:
        For months and months and from one end of the country to the other the whole official force has been engaged in pulling wires to dragoon the party into the renomination of the President.
        Speech at the Temple, St. Louis, Mo., July 22, 1872, published in the Daily Globe (St. Louis, Mo.; 23 July 1872).
      • 1906 May 4, “No presidential intervention this time”, in The Sun, volume LXXIII, number 246, New York, N.Y.: The Sun Printing and Publishing Association, →OCLC, page 6, column 3:
        [T]he union leaders in Pennsylvania are trying to dragoon the most exalted personage in the nation [the President] into a wrangle with which he has no official connection whatever.
    2. (military, historical) To cause (someone) to be attacked by dragoons.
      • 1881 December 3, “The issues in Derry”, in The Pall Mall Gazette: An Evening Newspaper and Review, volume XXXIV, number 5233, London: [] Richard Lambert, [], →OCLC, page 1, column 1:
        He [Samuel Wilson] says, for example, that he is opposed to locking men up without trial, but he refrains from pledging himself to releasing the suspects. He says nothing about the necessity for dragooning the Irish for abolishing trial by jury.

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  1. ^ From the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., United States.
  2. ^ From the collection of the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) in Paris, France.


  1. ^ dragoon, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “dragoon, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ dragoon, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “dragoon, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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