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ca·dre (kädrā, -drə, kădrē, kädər)
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n.
1. A nucleus of trained personnel around which a larger organization can be built and trained: a cadre of corporals who train recruits.
2.
a. A tightly knit group of zealots who are active in advancing the interests of a revolutionary party.
b. A member of such a group.

[French, from Italian quadro, frame, from Latin quadrum, a square; see kwetwer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Cadre was borrowed into English from French in the 19th century. People who know some French will recognize that the source word has no accent over the final e and so should not be pronounced with a final (ā) sound if the French origin of the word is to be acknowledged. Nonetheless, the pronunciation with a final (ā) has become well-established in the United States and predominates today. In our 1996 survey, 67 percent of the Usage Panel said they pronounced this word this way, as (kädrā), while 16 percent said they used (kädrə), a further 9 percent pronounced the word (kădrē), and 3 percent, (kädər). All of these pronunciations should be considered acceptable in American English. · The (kädrā) pronunciation is thus an American invention that arose as a mistake, probably because its foreign or European origin remained vaguely in people's awareness without a clear understanding of the French source word. In this situation, when a word is thought to be a foreign borrowing, people often follow established patterns of pronunciation in borrowed words, and for cadre, Spanish padre presents a familiar model. The pronunciation of cadre ending in (ā) might also have been made more likely by the tendency of English speakers to drop accent marks when spelling French borrowings, such as protege, while retaining the final vowel sound.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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