cohort


cohort
cohort
A cohort (cohors) of the Roman army was an infantry unit equivalent to one-tenth of a legion, and typically consisted of about 500 soldiers. In the plural it has often been used as a literary word for ‘army’, as in Byron's reference to Sennacherib (1815): And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold. As well as a technical meaning in demography, the word has in the 20c developed a meaning (originally AmE) ‘an assistant, colleague, accomplice’, probably influenced by the coincidence of the first element with the prefix co-:

• Mr Stratton consented…to partake together with his cohort of a sandwich and a glass of milk —A. Cross, 1967

• The impending trial of Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther movement, and his eight cohorts in New Haven —Sunday Times, 1970

• Brock and Emma had one wall, Bob, Johnny and their cohorts the other wall and centre aisle —John Le Carré, 1979.

The incongruity of this use is masked by its frequent appearance in the plural, and the singular even appears to be a kind of back-formation. Language becomes vulnerable when the specific historical significance of words is so easily forgotten.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • cohort — UK US /ˈkəʊhɔːt/ noun [C ] ► a group of people who share a characteristic, usually age: »About 42% of women in this age cohort have a college degree. »This year s cohort of graduates will have particular difficulties finding jobs. ► a person or a …   Financial and business terms

  • Cohort — Co hort, n. [L. cohors, prop. an inclosure: cf. F. cohorte. See {Court}, n.] 1. (Rom. Antiq.) A body of about five or six hundred soldiers; the tenth part of a legion. [1913 Webster] 2. Any band or body of warriors. [1913 Webster] With him the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cohort — I noun abettor, accessory, accomplice, aider and abettor, ally, assistant, associate, attendant, auxiliary, coadjutor, cohelper, cohors, collaborator, colleague, comate, companion, comrade, confederate, consociate, co operator, coworker, faithful …   Law dictionary

  • cohort — (n.) early 15c., company of soldiers, from M.Fr. cohorte (14c.) and directly from L. cohortem (nom. cohors) enclosure, meaning extended to infantry company in Roman army (a tenth part of a legion) through notion of enclosed group, retinue, from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cohort — [n] partner in activity accomplice, adherent, aide, ally, assistant, associate, companion, company, comrade, confrere, consociate, contingent, disciple, follower, friend, hand, legion, mate, myrmidon, pal, partisan, regiment, satellite, sidekick …   New thesaurus

  • cohort — ► NOUN 1) an ancient Roman military unit, comprising six centuries and equal to one tenth of a legion. 2) a number of people banded together or treated as a group. 3) derogatory, chiefly N. Amer. a supporter or companion. ORIGIN Latin cohors yard …   English terms dictionary

  • cohort — [kō′hôrt΄] n. [ME < L cohors, enclosure, enclosed company, hence, retinue, crowd < co ,CO + IE * ĝhṛtis, a gathering < base * ĝher , to grasp, enclose > YARD2] 1. an ancient Roman military unit of 300 600 men, constituting one tenth… …   English World dictionary

  • cohort — /koh hawrt/, n. 1. a group or company: She has a cohort of admirers. 2. a companion or associate. 3. one of the ten divisions in an ancient Roman legion, numbering from 300 to 600 soldiers. 4. any group of soldiers or warriors. 5. an accomplice;… …   Universalium