Sepoy: Wikis


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  • the sepoys lost the Central India Campaign (1858) because most of their officers were elderly men who had attained rank through seniority while seeing little action and receiving no training as leaders?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An early 20th century sepoy

A sepoy (pronounced /ˈsiːpɔɪ/) (from Persian سپاهی Sipâhi meaning "soldier") was a native of India, a soldier allied to a European power, usually the United Kingdom or Portugal, where the term "sipaio" was used. Specifically, it was the term used in the British Indian Army, and earlier in the East India Company, for an infantry private (a cavalry trooper was a Sowar), and is still so used in the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army. Close to 300,000 sepoys were crucial in securing the subcontinent for the British East India Company[1], and played a prominent role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 after it was alleged that the new rifles being issued to them used animal fat to grease the casing.

The same Persian word has reached English via another route in the form of Spahi.

The sepoys also served Portugal in India. Sepoys from the Portuguese India, later, were sent to other territories of the Portuguese Empire, specially those from Africa. Later, the term "sipaio" (sepoy) was also applied by the Portuguese to African soldiers and African rural police officers.

Its Basque version zipaio is used by leftist Basque nationalists as an insult for members of the Basque Police[2], implying that they are not a national police but servers of a foreign occupant.

See also

  • Sepoy Mutiny (also Indian Mutiny or First Indian War of Independence)
  • Jawan, the word used today to describe a soldier of the Armies of India and Pakistan.


  1. ^
  2. ^ La AN condena a dos años de cárcel al autor de los destrozos en el "bosque de Oma", Deia, 12 January 2005. Quoting a sentence from the Audiencia Nacional: «siendo público y notorio que el término "zipaio" es el que se da a los miembros de la Policía» vasca.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SEPOY, the usual English spelling of sipahi, the Persian and Urdu term for a soldier of any kind, cf. spahi. The word sipah, " army," from which sipahi, " soldier," is derived, corresponds to the Zend cpadha, Old Persian cpada, and has also found a home in the Turkish, Kurdish and Pashto (Pushtu) languages (see Justi, Handbuch der Zendsprache, p. 303, 6), while its derivative is used in all Indian vernaculars, including Tamil and Burmese, to denote a native soldier, in contradistinction to gora, " a fair-complexioned (European) soldier." A sepoy is at the present day strictly a private soldier in the native infantry of the Indian army.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Sepoy




Persian/Urdu سپاهي (sipāhī), soldier, horseman), from سپاه (sipāh), army). Compare spahi.


  • IPA: /'si:pɔɪ/




sepoy (plural sepoys)

  1. 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 East India Company, later in the crown colony), but also France and Portugal.





sepoy m. (plural sepoys, diminutive sepoytje, diminutive plural sepoytjes)

  1. A sepoy, native soldier in the East Indies


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