From Hungarian hajdúk
, plural of hajdú
(“foot-soldier”). The Hungarian word may derive from hajtó
which meant “(cattle) drover”. In 16th century Hungary, cattle driving was an important and dangerous occupation and drovers traveled armed. Some of them ended up as bandits or retainers in the service of local landowners and many may have become soldiers. In any case, the term hajduk came to be used in the 16th century to describe irregular soldiers. There is probably an etymological link between hajdú
and the Turkish word haydut
which was used by the Ottomans to describe Hungarian infantry soldiers, though it is not clear whether the word travelled from Hungarian to Turkish or vice versa.