(French, from Arabic zwawa, derived from Kabylian igawawawen)

The French name for a Kabylian tribe living in Algeria. From 1831 to 1965, the name was applied to élite infantry forces in the French Army, originally recruited among the Kabylians, but after 1841 solely manned with French volunteers dressed in exaggeratedly Oriental uniforms.

The zouave style became quite popular in the latter half of the 19th century, and zouave regiments were formed in the United States of America, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and the Papal State. Zouave regiments were a colourful addition to the already multifaceted panorama of uniforms in use during the American Civil War.

Zouave [F., fr. Ar. Zouaoua a tribe of Kabyles living among the Jurjura mountains in Algeria.] Mil. (a)

One of an active and hardy body of soldiers in the French service, originally Arabs, but now composed of Frenchmen who wear the Arab dress.

(b)

Hence, one of a body of soldiers who adopt the dress and drill of the Zouaves, as was done by a number of volunteer regiments in the army of the United States in the Civil War, 1861-65.

 

© Webster 1913.

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