Green’s Dictionary of Slang

carpet knight n.

[orig. a soldier who was dubbed knight at court (thus kneeling on a carpet) rather than in the chaos of a battlefield]

1. (also carpet-captain, carpet-champion, carpet lover, carpet-monger, carpet squire, carpet warrior) a man whose ‘knightly exploits’ concentrate on the boudoir rather than the battlefield.

[UK]W. Bullein Bk of Sicke Men and Medicenes fol. 73: When the people did see him daunce so lively, like a lubber in a nette, Lord how thei laughed this Carpet Squire to skorne.
A. Golding Ovid XII 673: [Achilles is] by that coward carpet knyght beereeved of his lyfe.
[UK]U. Fulwell Art of Flattery 8th dialogue 39: Then came in Sir Cupid like a carpet knight.
[UK]Greene Mamillia II 94: He must needes be a Carpet Knight: for they thinke it is as hard to lyue without loue as without meat.
[UK]Nashe Four Letters Confuted in Works II (1883–4) 219: Ouid [...] shrouded a picked effeminate Carpet Knight vnder the fictionate person of Hermophroditus.
[UK]Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing V ii: Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of pandars, and a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mongers.
E. Fairfax (trans.) Tasso XVI 32: From all the world, buried in sloth and shame, A carpet champion for a wanton dame.
[UK]R. Cotgrave Dict. of Fr. and Eng. Tongues n.p.: Dameret, An effeminate fondling, or fond carpet knight; one that spends his whole time in entertaining or courting women.
[UK] Massinger Unnatural Combat III iii: Your carpet Knights, That never charg’d beyond a mistresse lips.
[UK]J. Taylor Taylors Motto in Works (1869) II 49: To drinke a health to some vnworthy Lord: / Some fusty Madam, or some carpet Knight.
[UK]‘Mary Tattle-well’ Womens sharpe revenge 97: Verily he was a dainty perfum’d carpet Captaine, a powdred Potentate, a painted periwig [etc].
[UK] in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 71: Then into England straight he came / As fast as he was able, / Where he made many a Carpet Knight, / Though none of the Round Table.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk I 34: And I Æneas fam’d in Fight; / But much more for a Carpet-Knight.
[UK]C. Cotton Scoffer Scoff’d (1765) 180: It will be requisite, / If thou wilt turn a Carpet-Knight.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 276: Brave Carpet Knights in Cupid’s Fights, their milk-white Rapiers drew.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 217: A carpet knight ‘Who capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber’.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 181: Some spoony lords, some carpet warriors, some tenth transmitters of a foolish face.
[UK]G.A. Sala My Diary in America II 207: Very jovial citizen soldiers they are – not mere carpet knights, but distinguished as having been among the earliest to volunteer in this monstrous war.
[UK]Manchester Courier 2 June 5/6: He was severely wounded in the Crimea, and has often proved himsel to be no carpet knight.
[UK]Leeds Times 4 Feb. 6/4: To be a Carpet-Warrior nowadays needs a considerable deal of money, blood, or interest.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 5: Adonis, m. A lady’s man; ‘a carpet-knight’; ‘a tame cat’.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 180: These follies are but for a carpet lover.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 17: cold footer — a carpet knight.

2. a man who frequents drawing rooms rather than places of work.

[UK]Fraser’s Mag. Jan. 79/2: The symptoms of genius breed in our minds just so many suspicions, till genius itself must [...] pass upwards from the ranks to the command ; or it will be derided as a mere carpet warrior — a gay popinjay of scarlet and feathers.
[UK]Carlisle Jrnl 1 June 5/2: [He] expressed [the] disgust with which the army regarded the promotion of this carpet-warrior to one of the posts professedly reserved for old and distinguished soldiers.
[UK]W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-Bk (1991) 165: Carpet-Knight. A man who obtains knighthood on a pretence for services in which he never participated.
[Aus]C. Money Knocking About in N.Z. 127: If he had not been restrained and hampered by the ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ system which some miserable carpet-knights have fostered and encouraged, the news of the fatal affair [...] would never have been told.
[UK] Punch 15 Oct. 178: ‘SUR LE TAPIS.’ — If the new Carpet Knight, Sir BLONDEL MAPLE [...] be exceptionally successful on the Turf, isn’t he just the man to ‘make his “pile” and cut it’?
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 Apr. 1/3: The accusations of untruthfulness hurled at this paper by [...] that veritable carpet-knight Sir Arthur Renwick, recoil on their aggressive heads .