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The man on one of the front horses is a postilion

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle French postillon, and its likely source, Italian postiglione (guide for driver of post-coach), from posta (post).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɒˈstɪlɪən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pəˈstɪljən/, /poʊˈstɪljən/


postilion (plural postilions)

  1. A rider mounted on the near (left) leading horse who guides the team pulling a carriage.
    • 1768, Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, "Montreuil":
      C’est un garcon de bonne fortune, said the landlord, pointing through the window to half a dozen wenches who had got round about La Fleur, and were most kindly taking their leave of him, as the postilion was leading out the horses.
    • 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion, Book II, Chapter 7:
      The postilion seized one of his fat horses by the tail, and swung himself up to his seat again.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 22:
      The rain drove into the bride and bridegroom's faces as they passed to the chariot. The postilions' favours draggled on their dripping jackets.
    • 1911, Hilaire Belloc. The Girondin, Chapter 6:
      To play the postilion is not an easy thing. It is a trade by itself—half a gunner's and half a groom's. It has to do with horses—that is bad enough ; but also it involves some knowledge of the road.
  2. (obsolete) A post-boy, a messenger boy, a swift letter carrier.

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