Crossword clues for poilu
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
French private soldier, 1914, from French poilu, literally "hairy," from poil "hair," not of the head, but of beards, animal coats, etc., from Latin pilus (see pile (n.3)). In 19c. French the adjective had a secondary sense of "strong, brave, courageous" (Balzac).
n. A French infantryman during the First World War
Poilu (; ) is an informal term for a French World War I infantryman, meaning, literally, hairy one. It is still widely used as a term of endearment for the French infantry of World War I. The word carries the sense of the infantryman's typically rustic, agricultural background. Beards and bushy moustaches were often worn. The poilu was particularly known for his love of pinard, his ration of cheap wine.
The image of the dogged, bearded French soldier was widely used in propaganda and war memorials. The stereotype of the Poilu was of bravery and endurance, but not always of unquestioning obedience. At the disastrous Chemin des Dames offensive of 1917 under General Robert Nivelle, they were said to have gone into no man's land making baa'ing noises—a collective bit of gallows humor signaling the idea that they were being sent as lambs to the slaughter. Outstanding for its mixture of horror and heroism, this spectacle proved a sobering one. As the news of it spread, the French high command soon found itself coping with a widespread mutiny. A minor revolution was averted only with the promise of an end to the costly offensive.
The last surviving poilu from World War I was Pierre Picault. However, French authorities recognised Lazare Ponticelli as the last poilu, as he was the last veteran whose service met the strict official criteria. Lazare Ponticelli died in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre on 12 March 2008, aged 110.
Usage examples of "poilu".
She's the girl who was with the poilu at the Rat qui Danse the first night I was in Paris.
He was sad-eyed and plump, not at all the young poilu who'd gone off to fight the Reich in 1940 - not that she was a little girl any more, either.
He was sad-eyed and plump, not at all the young poilu who'd gone off to fight the Reich in 1940— not that she was a little girl any more, either.
There was one little hill where we'd have to get out and shove every damn time, the mud was so deep, and God, it stank there with the shells turning up the ground all full of mackabbies as the poilu call them…Say, Dook, have you got any money?