A Russian coachman ("yamshik", Russian: ямщик) leaning on a whip-handle. A painting by Vasily Tropinin, circa 1820.

A coachman is a man whose business it is to drive a coach, a horse-drawn vehicle designed for the conveyance of more than one passenger — and of mail — and covered for protection from the elements. He has also been called a coachee, coachy or whip.



The term "coachman" is correctly applied to the driver of any type of coach, but it had a specialized meaning before the advent of motor vehicles, as the servant who preceded the chauffeur in domestic service. In a great house, this would have been a specialty, but in more modest households, the coachman would have doubled as the stablehand or groom.

In early coaches he sat on a built-in compartment called a boot, bracing his feet on a footrest called a footboard. He was often pictured wearing a box coat or box jacket, a heavy overcoat with or without shoulder capes, double-breasted, with fitted waist and wide lapels; its name derives from its use by coachmen riding on the box seat, exposed to all kinds of weather. An ornamented, often fringed cloth called a hammercloth might have hung over the coachman's seat, especially of a ceremonial coach. He could be seen taking refreshments at a type of public house called a watering house.

A coachman was sometimes called a jarvey or jarvie, especially in Ireland (Jarvey was a nickname for Jarvis). In the first of his Sherlock Holmes stories, 'A Study in Scarlet', Conan Doyle refers to the driver of a small cab in London as a jarvey. A coachman who drove dangerously fast or recklessly might invoke biblical or mytholological allusions: Some referred to him as a jehu, recalling King Jehu of Israel, who was noted for his furious attacks in a chariot (2 Kings 9:20) before he died about 816 BCE. Others dubbed him a Phaeton, harking back to the Greek Phaëton, son of Helios who, attempting to drive the chariot of the sun, managed to set the earth on fire. When there was no coachman, a postilion or postillion sometimes rode as a guide on the near horse of a pair or of one of the pairs attached to a coach.

Hungarian folklore

The English word coach, the Spanish and Portuguese coche, the German Kutsche, and the Slovak and Czech koč all probably derive from the Hungarian word "kocsi", literally meaning "of Kocs".[1] Kocs (pronounced "kotch") was a Hungarian post town, and the coach itself may have been invented in Hungary. Hungarian villages such as Zakopane still hold Coachman of the Year competitions.[2]

The coachman soon became a prominent figure in Hungarian folklore. As the Clever Coachman (tudós kocsis),[3] he turns up unexpectedly in the hero's life, either knowing his name or naming him by his true name. After the hero enters the coach, the coachman becomes a kind of guide. He may not take the hero to where he wants to go, but he always takes him to where he needs to be.[4] Many of Steven Brust's novels play with this image of the coachman.

Other uses

Coachman is also a synonym for the pennant coralfish (Heniochus Monoceros).

Coachman is also a very famous fly used for flyfishing. The pattern exist as both a dry-fly and wet-fly. The pattern is composed before 1860 in England.


  1. ^ Definition "coach" in Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus. Reverso : On-line Translator, Free Automatic Translation, Dictionary.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • coachman — ⇒COACHMAN, subst. masc. A. [P. réf. à l Angleterre] Celui qui conduit un coach. Ernest descendit lentement de sa banquette, en vrai coachman (E. R. DE BEAUVOIR, Hist. cavalières, II, 182, 1838 ds BONN. 1920). B. P. méton. Manteau porté par un… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Coachman — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Alice Coachman (* 1923), US amerikanische Hochspringerin Jonathan Coachman (* 1972), US amerikanischer Journalist und Wrestling Kommentator Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Un …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Coachman — Coach man, n.; pl. {Coachmen}. 1. A man whose business is to drive a coach or carriage. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) A tropical fish of the Atlantic ocean ({Dutes auriga}); called also {charioteer}. The name refers to a long, lashlike spine of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coachman — 1570s, from COACH (Cf. coach) + MAN (Cf. man) …   Etymology dictionary

  • coachman — [kōch′mən] n. pl. coachmen [kōch′mən] the driver of a coach …   English World dictionary

  • coachman —    The professional title in former times of a stage coach driver. It occurs regularly as a vocative in eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, e.g. ‘Dear Coachman, drive on…’, said by a woman passenger in joseph Andrews, by Henry Fielding; …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • coachman — /kohch meuhn/, n., pl. coachmen. 1. a man employed to drive a coach or carriage. 2. Angling. See royal coachman. [1570 80; COACH + MAN] * * * …   Universalium

  • coachman — Synonyms and related words: Jehu, boy, bullwhacker, butler, cabby, cabdriver, cabman, cameleer, carter, cartman, charioteer, chauffeur, coachy, cocher, cochero, drayman, driver, elephant driver, equerry, gardener, gentleman, gharry wallah, gillie …   Moby Thesaurus

  • coachman — [[t]ko͟ʊtʃmən[/t]] coachmen N COUNT A coachman was a man who drove a coach that was pulled by horses. [OLD FASHIONED] …   English dictionary

  • coachman — /ˈkoʊtʃmən / (say kohchmuhn) noun (plural coachmen) 1. a man employed to drive a coach or carriage. 2. Also, coachman s whipbird. → whipbird …  

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