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[buh-ton, ba-, bat-n] /bəˈtɒn, bæ-, ˈbæt n/
Music. a wand used by a conductor.
a rod of lightweight metal fitted with a weighted bulb at each end and carried and twirled by a drum major or majorette.
Track. a hollow rod of wood, paper, or plastic that is passed during a race from one member of a relay team to the next in a prescribed area.
a staff, club, or truncheon, especially one serving as a mark of office or authority.
  1. a diminutive of the bend sinister, couped at the extremities: used in England as a mark of bastardy.
  2. a similar diminutive of the ordinary bend.
Origin of baton
1540-50; < Middle French bâton, Old French baston < Vulgar Latin *bastōn- (stem of *bastō) stick, club; compare Late Latin bastum staff
4. mace, scepter, crosier, rod, wand; fasces; caduceus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for baton
  • In fact, a baton seems to be dancing and twinkling up along her forearm and back down again to her hand even as she speaks.
  • Elsewhere, it will happen only if vigorous private domestic demand picks up the baton from government stimulus.
  • He grabs a baton that he ignites at both ends, then twirls.
  • It has a smooth and polished surface, and resembles the baton generally borne by police and other officers.
  • Presidential relatives may, anyway, be getting ready to take up the baton.
  • It's about the angst of being a baton twirler at a school where that's not appreciated.
  • So productivity-output per worker-must take up the baton in order to sustain growth.
  • The job is harder if the weights are at each end of the baton than if they are close to centre.
  • He keeps a ninja baton and a can of pepper spray by his bed, and only seven people have his new cell-phone number.
  • All of a sudden, a cop takes his baton and cracks her in the head.
British Dictionary definitions for baton


/ˈbætən; -tɒn/
a thin stick used by the conductor of an orchestra, choir, etc, to indicate rhythm or expression
  1. a short stick carried for use as a weapon, as by a policeman; truncheon
  2. (as modifier): a baton charge
(athletics) a short bar carried by a competitor in a relay race and transferred to the next runner at the end of each stage
a long stick with a knob on one end, carried, twirled, and thrown up and down by a drum major or drum majorette, esp at the head of a parade
a staff or club carried by an official as a symbol of authority
(heraldry) a single narrow diagonal line superimposed on all other charges, esp one curtailed at each end, signifying a bastard line
Word Origin
C16: from French bâton, from Late Latin bastum rod, probably ultimately from Greek bastazein to lift up, carry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for baton

1540s, "a staff used as a weapon," from French bâton "stick, walking stick, staff, club, wand," from Old French baston (12c.) "stick, staff, rod," from Late Latin bastum "stout staff," probably of Gaulish origin or else from Greek *baston "support," from bastazein "to lift up, raise, carry." Meaning "staff carried as a symbol of office" is from 1580s; musical sense of "conductor's wand" is from 1841 (from 1839 as a French word in English). Often anglicized 17c.-18c. as batoon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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baton in Culture

baton definition

A stick used by some conductors of choruses or orchestras. The baton is traditionally used to indicate the tempo of the music.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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