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A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary.[1] The majority of cognates of the word "soldier" that exist in other languages have a meaning that embraces both commissioned and non-commissioned officers in national land forces.



The word soldier entered modern English in the 14th century, from the equivalent Middle English word soudeour, from Anglo-French soudeer or soudeour, meaning mercenary, from soudee, meaning shilling's worth or wage, from sou or soud, shilling.[2] The word is also related to the Medieval Latin soldarius, meaning soldier (literally, "one having pay").[3] These words were ultimately derived from the Late Latin word solidus, referring to an Ancient Roman coin used in the Byzantine Empire.[2][3]

Occupational designations

In most armed forces use of the word soldier has taken on a more general meaning, due to the increasing specialization of military occupations that require different areas of knowledge and skill-sets. As a result, "soldiers" are referred to by names or ranks which reflect an individual's military occupation specialty Arm, Service or Branch of military employment, their type of unit, or operational employment or technical use such as: trooper, tanker, Commando, dragoon, infantryman, Marine, paratrooper, ranger, sniper, engineer, sapper, medic, or a gunner.

Other terms

In many countries soldiers serving in specific occupations are referred to by terms other than their occupational name. For example military police personnel in the U.K. are known as "redcaps" from the colour of their berets or other headwear.

In the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, infantrymen are called "grunts," while artillerymen are sometimes referred to as "redlegs," from the branch color for artillery. U.S. soldiers are often called "G.I.s".

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