Word of the Week (141): PALIKAR (probability 21836), by David Sutton

A PALIKAR was a Greek or Albanian soldier in the pay of the Sultan of Turkey; the word was also used for a Greek militiaman who fought in the Greek war of independence against Turkey (1821-8) — that's the one Lord Byron got mixed up in.

There are many other words for exotic types of soldier, especially for guerrilla fighters or mercenaries serving a foreign power. A PANDOOR or PANDOUR was a Hungarian mountaineer serving in the Austrian army. A CHETNIK was a Serbian resistance fighter involved in guerrilla warfare against Turkish rule in the 19th century. A HAIDUK or HEYDUCK was a Hungarian brigand or guerrilla warrior. A STRADIOT was a Venetian light horseman from Albania or Greece.

A RAPPAREE was a wild Irish plunderer, especially of the 17th century; CATERAN is an old Scots word for a military irregular.

Finally, a favourite of mine, despite its complete lack of Scrabble utility: a BASHIBAZOUK was one of a group of irregular Turkish soldiers notorious for their brutality. Nothing to do with our word BASH — the name comes from the Turkish and means 'wild head' — but how appropriate....


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