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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sepoy \Se"poy\, n. [Per. sip[=a]h[=i], fr. sip[=a]h an army. Cf. Spahi.] A native of India employed as a soldier in the service of a European power, esp. of Great Britain; an Oriental soldier disciplined in the European manner.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"native of India in British military service," 1717, from Portuguese sipae, from Urdu sipahi, from Persian sipahi "soldier, horseman," from sipah "army." The Sepoy Mutiny was 1857-8.


n. (context historical English) A native soldier of the East Indies, employed in the service of a European colonial power, notably the British India army (first under the British-chartered (w: East India Company), later in the crown colony), but also France and Portugal.


A sepoy was formerly the designation given to an Indian soldier. In the modern Nepalese Army, Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army it remains in use for the rank of private soldier.

Usage examples of "sepoy".

May 1857, that a telegram arrived at the fort informing the Resident and Brigadier General Sir James Cameron that Indian army sepoys had revolted in Meerut, killed their officers and British civilians in the town and were marching on Delhi to rally behind the Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, against the British.

Hunsa went the length of telling Ajeet that the Dewan would even send them word where a decoity of much loot could be made and in a safe way, too, for the Dewan would take care that neither sepoys nor police would be in the way.

Now, under the midday sun, the Major wandered among the sappers filling the gab ions He tested each one, making certain that the sepoys i, were ramming the earth hard into the wicker baskets, for a loosely filled gabion was no use.

A half company of kilted redcoats followed the sepoys and Sharpe assumed that Wellesley had ordered the picquets of the day into the city.

And now, an hour later, the pipal was surrounded by thousands of Mahratta sepoys, for word had gone forth,--the mysterious rumour of India that is like a weird static whispering to the four corners of the land a message,--had flashed through the tented city that the men from Karowlee were to take the oath of allegiance to Sindhia.

He watched as the sepoys hurried back to their ranks and as the first pucka lees appeared from the nearby Kaitna with their huge loads of canteens and waterskins.

In April we sent a force from Fort Saint David--before we came back here--four hundred and thirty white soldiers and a thousand Sepoys, under the command of Captain Cope, to aid a fellow who had been turned out of the Rajahship of Tanjore.

Sepoy Prem Singh, climbing several times out of a window in the tower with a heliograph, and signaling outside to the Malakand under a hot fire from sungars in every direction.

The Voivode glanced at the nearest of the sepoys standing silently against the wall of the chamber.

While the Bengal Sepoys were obstructed by obstacles which they could not surmount, the Bombay column gained an entrance.

Major-general Lord Melville, Sir Henry Hardinge, while he actually eulogised the Sepoy army especially for their loyalty, privately expressed his alarm at the unsafe foundation upon which British power in India rested, in consequence of the secret unfaithfulness of the Sepoy troops!

For a moment there was chaotic slaughter as Madrassi sepoys chased Goanese gunners around limbers and guns, but Wallace was already looking ahead and could see this.

The 78th, another Highland battalion, was on their right, and on either side of those two Scottish battalions were long lines of Madrassi sepoys.

They went without weapons, master less fugitives who posed no threat to the British camp, which was guarded by a half battalion of Madrassi sepoys.

Mahrattas, which ended in complete victory at Gawilghur, was thus won by Madrassi sepoys and Scottish Highlanders, and it was an extraordinary victory.