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From French mamelouk, ultimately from Arabic مَمْلُوك ‎(mamlūk, slave) (literally "possessed"), passive participle of مَلَكَ ‎(malaka, to possess, to acquire).



mameluke ‎(plural mamelukes)

  1. A member of a military regime created and run originally by freed white slaves, which formed a ruling caste in Egypt from 1250 until 1812 and in Syria until 1516.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I.48:
      The Mammalukes boast, that they have the nimblest and readiest horses of any men at armes in the world.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, p.574:
      He first smashed the native Mameluke army at the battle of the Pyramids on 21 July, and secured lower Egypt before leading an expedition in Syria against Turkish forces.
    • 2009, Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, Penguin 2010, p. 278:
      The Mamluks, who seized power in Egypt in 1250, were a caste of men captured for military service, so they drew their identity from their defence of Islam against its enemies.
  2. (obsolete) A slave (especially white) in a Muslim country.
    • 1888, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 1:
      Having accepted this advice the King forthwith bade prepare handsome gifts, such as horses with saddles of gem encrusted gold; Mamelukes, or white slaves; beautiful handmaids, high breasted virgins, and splendid stuffs and costly.





  1. feminine singular of mameluk