AskDefine | Define warrior

Dictionary Definition

warrior n : someone engaged in or experienced in warfare

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A person who is actively engaged in battle, conflict or warfare; a soldier or combatant.
  2. In the context of "figuratively": A person who is aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved in an activity, such as athletics

Related terms

Derived terms


person actively engaged in battle, conflict or warfare
person aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved in an activity
  • Russian: воин, боец, солдат

Extensive Definition

According to the Random House Dictionary, the term warrior has two meanings. The first literal use refers to "a person engaged or experienced in warfare." The second figurative use refers to "a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics."


In tribal societies engaging in endemic warfare, warriors often form a caste or class of their own. In feudalism, the vassals essentially form a military or warrior class, even if in actual warfare, peasants may be called to fight as well. In some societies, warfare may be so central that the entire people (or, more often large parts of the male population) may be considered warriors, for example in the Iron Age Germanic tribes or the Medieval Rajputs.
Professional warriors are people who are paid money for engaging in military campaigns and fall into one of two categories: Soldiers, when fighting on behalf of their own state; or mercenaries, when offering their services commercially and unrelated to their own nationality. The classification of somebody who is involved in acts of violence may be a matter of perspective, and there may be disagreement whether a given person is a hooligan, gangster, terrorist, rebel, freedom fighter, mercenary or a soldier.

Warrior classes

Some societies have had a privileged social class or caste with special responsibility for warfare. This class could be hereditary or qualified. See also nobility.
In 1937 Georges Dumézil famously speculated that Proto-Indo-European society was composed of a priestly class, a warrior class, and an agrarian class. The Indian society was based on these lines, composing of the Brahmins (priests), the Kshatriya (warriors), the Vaishya (business class) and the Shudras (servants). In contemporary Jungian psychology, the warrior is often seen as a key archetype of masculinity.

Warrior code

In many societies in which a specialized warrior class exists, specific codes of conduct (ethical codes) are instituted in order to ensure that the warrior class is not dangerous to the rest of society. Warrior codes often have common features and usually value honour in the forms of faith, loyalty and courage. Examples include the medieval knights' code of chivalry, the Kshatriya code of Dharma in India and Japanese samurai Bushido. See also noblesse oblige.

Warrior cultures

A warrior culture is a culture that heavily emphasizes battle and war and greatly prizes feats of arms. Warrior cultures often incorporate a cult of personality around military leaders, are ruled by an elite warrior class, and have a warfare based economy.
Feudal societies are not always warrior cultures, since although feats of arms are prized, there is not necessarily an emphasis on battle and war. In some feudal societies, the soldiery was provided through conscription of the peasant class.

Women as warriors

In many societies women have been considered innocent bystanders in war, alongside children. In such cases, fighting women is considered dishonorable. Most warriors have been men, however, there are many notable female warriors.
In Ancient Egypt, the earliest of recorded histories of human culture, Ahhotep I and Hatshepsut are documented as warrior queens. Others in various early cultures are documented as well.
Amanirenas, a warrior queen of Nubia led her forces to attack Roman territory in Africa. After an initial victory when her forces sacked a Roman town, she was defeated and surrendered.
Since Eurypyle, Deborah, and Vishpala there have been references to women warriors throughout history. Boudica lead an enormous army that is well documented. See the list provided above for many more. Yet until modern times, however, warrior women mostly have been noted by historians as an exception or a curiosity. One example of a group of fighting women is the legend of the Amazons, that is recorded in myths.
Today, women are recruited to serve in the military in most countries, while only a few countries permit women to fill active combat roles, including Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland. However, in other countries women do end up in combat situations.



  • Shannon E. French, Code of the Warrior - Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present (2003).

See also

William Stanley
warrior in Catalan: Guerrer
warrior in German: Krieger
warrior in Spanish: Guerrero
warrior in French: Guerrier
warrior in Dutch: Krijger (strijder)
warrior in Norwegian: Kriger
warrior in Norwegian Nynorsk: Krigar
warrior in Polish: Wojownik
warrior in Portuguese: Guerreiro
warrior in Romanian: Războinic
warrior in Serbian: Ратник
warrior in Finnish: Soturi
warrior in Swedish: Krigare

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Amazon, air serviceman, brave, cannon fodder, fighter, fighting man, food for powder, halberdier, hoplite, legionary, man-at-arms, military man, navy man, pikeman, rifle, rifleman, serviceman, soldier, spearman, swaddy, sweat, warrioress
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