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n. Slang
A French soldier, especially in World War I.

[French, hairy, tough, poilu, from Old French pelu, hairy, from Vulgar Latin *pilūtus, from Latin pilus, hair.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈpwɑːluː; French pwaly)
(Military) an infantryman in the French Army, esp one in the front lines in World War I
[C20: from French, literally: hairy (that is, virile), from poil hair, from Latin pilus a hair]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈpwɑ lu; Fr. pwaˈlü)

n., pl. -lus (-luz; Fr. -ˈlü)
a French common soldier.
[1910–15; < French, hairy, haired; Middle French, Old French pelu < Vulgar Latin *pilūtus < Latin pil(us) hair]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.poilu - a French soldier (especially in World War I)
soldier - an enlisted man or woman who serves in an army; "the soldiers stood at attention"
2.poilu - thick stew made of rice and chicken and small game; southern U.S.
stew - food prepared by stewing especially meat or fish with vegetables
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
"It was an overcast night, but the poilus ' faces were daubed with black so the faint light would not gleam on their white features.
1919 version in which the revenant poilus march back to their villages
In his 1916 novel, Under Fire, Henri Barbusse's poilus (French slang for the "hairy ones" of the French infantry), on leave in Paris, immediately discern among the crowd the "aviators (who can be recognized from a distance by their trim elegance and their decorations)." The pilot's distinctive appearance also impresses Lucy Maud Montgomery's women on the Canadian home front in the novel Rilla o Ingleside, who remark that Anne of Green Gables' youngest son has joined up and become a pilot.
Lloyd has Petain warning Foch that the poilus were "bled white, anaemic." Pershing was keen to fight but hobbled by an army barely trained in trench or open warfare.
And so it was, yet the need to ease the dreadful pressure on Petain's weary, bloodshod Poilus meant Haig had to commit Tommies to their own Calvary of the Somme, by far the costliest battle in British and Commonwealth history.
C'est a s'arracher les cheveux de la tete, de la barbe, de la poitrine et d'autres endroits poilus du corps humain !
And moreover, the South African Department of Education should pay particular attention to the recommendations made in this research so as to sufficiently and expeditiously address the educational needs and expectations of the African poilus.
The letters Lyons examines to and from France's poilus reveals many of the social and regional fractures that belie the argument that France's army was unified in a sense of patriotism and attachment to Alsace and Lorraine.