A B C
D E F
G H I J
K L M
N O P
R S T U
V W X Y
Adjutant: regimental staff officer responsible for discipline, drill and
personnel matters. Usually a captain, often with additional rank service
Aide-de-Camp: junior staff officer attached to a general.
'Amaldar: under Tipu, revenue officer in charge of a district.
Ayda Katti: a broad-bladed chopper-like weapon; the large sword-knife of the Coorgs.
Babri [also bubri]: the tiger stripe decorative motif used by Tipu.
Bania: Hindu trader from Gujarat, banker.
Ball: musket-ball or cartridge.
Banquette: firing-step behind a parapet.
Barbette: a raised terrace from which mounted heavy guns may fire over a parapet.
Bastion: a four-sided fortification.
Batta: special payments and field allowances paid to troops in the field.
Battalion Company: 'centre' company of an infantry battalion.
Battering train: the men, guns, ammunition and specialist equipment to move and mount siege artillery for laying seige to and breaching a fortified place.
Battery: gun emplacement.
Batty: rice in the husk.
Beasties: water carriers or water bearers.
Blue Light: blue illumination-flare composed of salt-petre, sulphuret of lead and sulphur in proportions 6:1:2.
Bomb: mortar-shell; loosely applied to all explosive projectiles.
Bound Hedge: broad strong belt of prickly bushes, shrubs or bamboo planted to form a defensive fence enclosing forts or villages. [see: Mysore Thorn]
Breastplate: small metal badge worn on a shoulder-belt.
Breastwork: protective parapet or barricade.
Brigade: tactical military formation of approximately 3000 men containing two or three battalions. Commanded by a major-general.
Brigade Major: staff officer attached to an infantry brigade.
Brinjarris[also Binjarrees]: travelling grain and
salt-merchants in the Deccan (a separate caste) contracted to supply the British Army in India; commissariat carrier.
Bukshie [also Bukshy, Bukshey, Bukhshie,Buxee]: high-ranking officer in Tipu's military administration; also a military
Canister: artillery ammunition comprising lead balls in a tin.
Cantonment: that part of a town occupied by the garrison; permanent military town.
Captain-Lieutenant: officer commanding the company nominally led by the battalion colonel.
Carronade: large-calibre, short-range cannon.
Casement: chamber in a fortress wall.
Cavalier: raised gun platform, usually inside a bastion.
Chela: slave; disciple.
Chick: short for chickeen or chequeen - a gold coin
for a long time current in India, derived from the Venetian ducat
or sequin. [See also: zechin].
Choultry: rest-house, court-house, shed, inn or caravanserai; also a pillared hall or colonnade of a temple.
Circar: name given to territory in the northern part of the Coromandel coast separating the areas controlled by the Bengal and Madras Presidencies, and ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Citadel: four- or five-sided strongpoint; fortress in or near a city.
Colours: battalion flags that represented the honour of a unit. British
battalions had a King's Colour and a Regimental colour that were carried into
battle by ensigns and protected by serjeants (later colour-serjeants). To lose
a Colour in battle meant military disgrace.
Coorg: native of Coorg (Kodagu).
Cornet: cavalry second-lieutenant.
Corps: a tactical unit of two or more divisions; generic term for any military unit.
Counterscarp: outer sloping wall of the ditch or the area between the parapet and the glacis.
Countersign: military password.
Crore: one hundred lakhs of rupees, equivalent to £1 million.
Cowle: guarantee of safe-conduct or amnesty offered in time of military conflict.
Curtain: main wall of a defensive work or the part of a rampart between two bastions.
Cushoon [also Koshoon: regiment/brigade in Tipu Sultan's army - formed from 4 teeps; also circumcised Muslim soldier.
Cutchery [also cutcherry]: military division or large brigade in Tipu Sultan's army, approximately 5,600 men formed from 4 cushoons.
Dak or dawk: Indian mail-post; a relay system for forwarding mail, messages, information and goods.
Demi-lune: see ravelin.
Dhoolie or doolie: covered Indian chair or palanquin, often used to carry a sick person.
Ditch: linear trench, either wet (moat) or dry, intended as an obstacle to attackers or a sheltered line of communications for defenders.
Dolphin: lifting-handle on a cannon-barrel.
Droog: fortified hill or rock.
Division: tactical formation of two or more brigades.
Diwan: chief minister.
durg/durga: high hill; fort on top of same.
Embrasure: opening in a parapet to permit gunfire through the wall.
Enceinte: area enclosed withina defensive works main line of ramparts, but excluding its outworks.
Enfilade: fire that rakes a line or position from end to end; flanking fire.
Ensign: infantry second-lieutenant.
Escalade: scaling of walls by attackers using ladders.
Face: exposed outer surface, particularly a bastion's wall between its salient angle and flank.
Facings: collars, cuffs and lapels of a uniform jacket.
Factory: European trading establishment.
Family: general's staff.
Fanam: small Indian coin.
Fascine: bundles of brushwood or branches; used to retain the earthen walls of trenches or in batteries.
Fausse-braye: low outer rampart
Firangi (also Feringee, Feringhi, Faringee):
Indian term for a European or foreigner, derived from an earlier description of Europeans as 'hat-wearing people'..
Firman (also farman): royal decree or order.
Fireworker: artillery technician.
Flank: side or wing of an army; a body of soldiers on the extreme right or
left of a formation; part of a bastion betwen its face.
Flank Company: grenadiers and light infantry of a line battalion.
Forlorn Hope: first storming party into the breach during an attack on a
fortress - to cover the placement of ladders etc. Volunteer group consisting of a
serjeant carrying his regiment's Colours, with 12 lightly equipped soldiers
followed by a subaltern with another 25 men. Officers and serjeants who
survived the enemy fire were generally rewarded with promotion.
Fort: structure designed primarily for defence.
Fortress: important fortified complex, often designed to surround and protect an entire city.
Gabion: earth-filled wicker basket used in fortification.
Geesh: armed militia (Mysorean).
Ghat [ also ghaut]: name given to the mountain ranges parallel to the
east and west coasts of India [ie. Eastern and Western Ghats]; mountain pass.
Glacis: long, gentle slope below the ramparts, kept clear to provide no cover for attacking troops (from French glace, meaning 'ice').
Gopura: tower (associated with temple architecture).
Gorget: decorative crescent-shaped plaque worn by officers around the neck.
Grape or Grapeshot: artillery ammunition consisting of a number of medium-sized iron balls.
Grenadier Company: elite attack soldiers formed into a unit within a
regiment; generally composed of the fittest and strongest men. Positioned on the
right flank of a battalion in battle or on parade.
Griffin: someone newly arrived in India.
Ground Rocket: projectile with a serpentine motion designed to ricochet on impact and continue along the the ground.
Gun-metal: 'brass' of cannon, generally 8-10 parts tin to 1000 parts copper.
Gurry: hill fort.
Hackery: oxen cart.
Half-pay: pay accorded to an officer who held a commission but had no employment.
Handspike: lever used to manoeuvre a cannon.
Havildar: serjeant in an Indian infantry battalion; sepoy non-commissioned officer.
HEIC: Honourable East India Company [English], established in 1600.
Hircarrah [also Harkara]: messenger, courier, spy.
Howdah: elephant saddle.
Howitzer: short-barrelled cannon designed for high-angle fire.
Hukmnama: written order.
Jagir: land grant.
Jemadar (also Jemmidar): junior Indian officer in a troop or company of sepoys, equivalent in rank to a lieutenant.
Jetti: professional Indian strongman employed by Tipu to execute prisoners.
John Company: nickname for the East India Company.
Killedar [also kiledar or qiledar]: commandant or governor of a fort.
Knapsack: infantry pack.
Kos or coss: a measure of distance, approximately two miles (or 3.2 kilometres).
Kuzak: irregular horsemen or 'looties' (Mysorean).
Lakh: Indian measure of 100,000, usually applied to rupees; equivalent to £10,000.
Lascar: labourer employed in dragging artillery or pitching military tents (i.e. 'gun-lascar'); also deck-hand on board ship.
Looty or Looties: irregular Indian horse cavalry employed
to harass an enemy and to lay waste to the countryside. [see: Pindaries]
Lunette: triangular fortification on or beyond a glacis.
Magazine: storage-place for ammunition.
Meer Asif: 'Chief of Revenue' in Tipu's administration.
Meer Kasim: 'Chief of the Treasury' in Tipu's administration.
Meer Meeran: 'Principal Lord' in Tipu's administration.
Mess: a group of military personnel who eat together regularly.
de Meuron Regiment: Swiss mercenaries employed by the Dutch who defected to
the British in 1795.
Mohur: Indian gold coin.
Mokumdar: rank equivalent to 'Colonel of a cavalry regiment' in Tipu's army.
Mopla or moplah: indigenous Muslim of Malabar coast.
Munshi: writer, clerk, secretary.
Mysore thorn: a sharp prickly bush, Caesalpinia sepiaria.
Used frequently as a fence in the Deccan; employed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan
as a defensive structure located at the approaches to Seringapatam.
Naik or Nayak: non-commissioned sepoy officer; a title of honour in the Deccan.
Nair or Nayar: matrilineal military caste in Malabar; at one time time the dominant caste in Malabar (Kerala).
Nabob: term given to any Briton who returned home with an ostentatious fortune accrued in India.
Nizam: part of the title ofthe first Subedar of the Deccan, Asaf Jah, Nizam ul-Mulk.
Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO): enlisted member of the army who holds rank
by appointment rather than by commission or warrant.
Nulla or Nullah: watercourse or land feature (i.e. ditch
or depression) associated with water. Not all nullahs were
water-filled and dry nullahs were often adapted in battle as
natural trenches for providing cover and protecting troop movements.
Outpost: outlying piquet.
Outwork: defensive work located beyond the glacis, but close enough to receive protection from the main fortification.
Paddy: name for rice while it is still green or in its dry state before the husks are beaten off.
Palisades: stakes of split wood approx. 3 metres long fixed one metre in the ground in rows.
Parallel: siege-trench running parallel to enemy fortification.
Parapet: defensive wall of earth or stone; breastwork designed to cover troops from observation and fire.
Park (of artillery): a place chosen for the assembly of artillery, ammunition and associated equipment; artillery reserve.
Parallel: siege-trench running parallel to enemy fortification.
Pan: shallow receptacle that holds the powder in a flintlock, musket, or other gunpowder weapon.
Paymaster: officer of rank of captain responsible for a regiment's pay. A
military commission as Paymaster could be purchased, but the regimental Colonel
had to approve.
Peshwa: putative head (chief minister) of the Maratha confederacy.
Pettah: suburb/town attached or adjacent to a fortress; sometimes
separately fortified with a bound hedge or wall.
Piada Askur: regular infantry (Mysorean).
Picquet: infantry outpost or sentinel.
Picker: wire needle for clearing musket touch-hole.
Picquet: infantry outpost or sentinel.
Piece: a gun, howitzer or mortar; ordnance
Pindaries: irregular light horse troops paid only by plunder; used for reconnaisance, harassment, and screening the movement of infantry - as well as looting.
Pioneer: regimental artificer or carpenter.
Poligar: petty chief or ruler; term coined by the British from Tamil palaiyakkarar - 'men of military encampments.'
Post: outpost, sentinel.
Postern: see sallyport.
Prize Agent: member of a military tribunal set up to calculate the amount of reward for individual ranks of soldiers in a military campaign.
Prize Committee: military tribunal established in time of war to calculate the value of goods and treasure captured during a campaign.
Prize Money: official reward received for participation in a successful military campaign (as distinct from 'loot')and to be shared out among the army as a whole.
Qal'adar: commander of a fort.
Quartermaster: junior officer, usually a lieutenant (often ex rank and
file soldier); responsible for stores, rations, supplies, ammunition, uniforms,
and equipment within a regiment.
Raggy: small coarse grain grown in Mysore and surrounding districts.
Rampart: earth or masonry wall forming the main defensive work of a fortress, usually surmounted by a parapet.
Ranker: colloquialism for a member of the rank-and-file, a private soldier.
Ravelin (or demi-lune): an outwork on the far side of the ditch or
moat of a fortification and located between two bastions. Built in the shape of
an arrowhead, facing away from the fortification, with an opening towards the
wall; defensive purpose was to protect the ground in front of the main
Redan: V-shaped fortification.
Redoubt: detached fortification, or a redan in a bastion.
Revetment: facing of a wall with temporary materials (e.g. sandbags),
stone or brick to strengthen the rampart.
Rocket: projectile weapon. Consisted of an iron tube approximately 12
inches long and 1 inch in diameter fixed to a a bamboo rod of 10-12 feet in
length (as a stabilising tail). The tube was filled with combustible material and launched/directed by
hand. Designed to create noise and confusion - especially amongst large
concentrations of troops and densely packed mounted horsemen.
Salient Angle: outward pointing angle of a bastion or defensive work.
Sallyport: tunnel providing access to a ditch or outside
fortified work; may be intended for sorties during a siege, as a means of escape
or a shortcut during peace. [see also: postern.
Sanad: royal decree, patent or grant; written authority for holding office or land.
Sawar Askur: Stable Horse (Mysorean).
Scarp: inner wall of a ditch or the wall in front of the rampart.
Seer: denomination of weight.
Sepadar or sepahdar: military officer with the equivalent rank of colonel/brigadier-general in Tipu's army.
Sepoy: Indian private soldier (of infantry) in the service of the East
India Company, commonly used as an adjective (e.g. 'sepoy regiment') or in the
plural to describe Indian soldiers in general.
Serjeant-Major: senior serjeant in a battalion, with one to each battalion.
Shroff: native banker or moneylender. Shroffs also loaned money
against jewellery taken as plunder (esp. significant in the widespread
looting by soldiers following the capture of Seringapatam in May 1799).
Sicca Rupee: rupee coin minted by the East India Company - as opposed to a native ruler.
Silladar or Silahdar: soldier in a regiment of irregular cavalry who provided his own
arms and horse; mercenary Indian horseman [see also: Looty].
Sirdar: leader, commander or officer.
Spike: to drive a spike or similar object into the touch-hole of a cannon to make it impossible to fire. Soldiers were issued soft-iron spikes that could be driven into the touch-hole and broken off.
Stand of Arms: a complete set of arms for one infantryman.
Star-Fort: fort with earthworks, bastions etc., arranged in the shape of a star.
Subadar or soubahdar: senior indigenous South Asian
infantry officer with the rank equivalency of captain in a sepoy
unit; also viceroy or governor of a province.
Taluk: the subdivision of a district.
Tank: large reservoir of water for supplying a fort or town, or for
cultivation of paddy fields in the countryside.
Teep: battalion in Tipu Sultan's army.
Terreplain: wide upper part of a rampart.
Tiffen: midday meal.
Tindal: a leader of lascars in the artillery.
Topass or topaze: term first applied to the offspring of Portuguese men and
South Asian women. At one time these Euro-Asians formed a sizeable
proportion of the population of Goa and other Portuguese colonies. Many
assumed their father's religion and profession as soldiers - referred to
as 'black Christians', highly valued in infantry and artillery units.
Tope: grove or shady copse of trees.
Trace: ground plan of a fortification.
Triangle: framework of half-pikes (spontoons) to which a prisoner was tied
before being flogged.
Truck: small, solid wheels for artillery carriage.
Tugra or tughra: a monogram with stylised calligraphy where two or more
letters are interwoven or combined to create an ornamental name.
Tumbrel: covered cart for carrying artillery ammunition.
Tulwar: curved Indian sword or sabre.
Vakeel or vakil: ambassador, agent or representative.
Vedette: mounted sentry placed in front of an outpost; cavalry scout.
Wakil: see Vakeel.
Worm: corkscrew device for extracting an unfired charge from a gun-barrel.
Yeuz: formed from 4 Companies in Tipu Sultan's army.
Zamindar or zemindar: landholder; under Tipu, a petty chief.
Zechin: gold coin, worth approximately four rupees. Derived from the Venetian coin: zecchino or cecchino. [See Chick]
Zenana or Zanana: harem, or women's quarters.
Return to Top
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