platoon

[pluh-toon]
noun
1.
a military unit consisting of two or more squads or sections and a headquarters.
2.
a small unit of a police force.
3.
a company or group of persons: a platoon of visitors.
4.
Football. a group of players specially trained in one aspect of the game, as offense or defense, and used as a unit: a halfback on the offensive platoon.
verb (used with object)
5.
Sports.
a.
to use (a player) at a position in a game alternately with another player or players.
b.
to alternate (two different teams or units), as separate offensive and defensive squads.
verb (used without object)
6.
Sports.
a.
to alternate at a position with another player or players.
b.
to use players alternately at the same position.
c.
to alternate different teams.

Origin:
1630–40; earlier plotton < French peloton little ball, group, platoon, diminutive of pelote ball. See pellet, -oon

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World English Dictionary
platoon (pləˈtuːn)
 
n
1.  military a subunit of a company usually comprising three sections of ten to twelve men: commanded by a lieutenant
2.  a group or unit of people, esp one sharing a common activity, characteristic, etc
 
[C17: from French peloton little ball, group of men, from pelote ball; see pellet]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

platoon
1637, from Fr. peloton "platoon, group of people" (15c.), from M.Fr. peloton, lit. "little ball," hence, "agglomeration," dim. of O.Fr. pelote "ball" (see pellet). The verb, in baseball, "to alternate (a player) with another in the same position" is attested from 1967.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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