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[buh-tal-yuh n] /bəˈtæl yən/
Military. a ground force unit composed of a headquarters and two or more companies or similar units.
an army in battle array.
Often, battalions. a large number of persons or things; force:
battalions of bureaucrats.
Origin of battalion
1580-90; < Middle French bataillon < Italian battaglione large squadron of soldiers, equivalent to battagli(a) battaglia + -one augmentative suffix
Related forms
subbattalion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for battalion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • battalion, stand at—— after which they awaited with feverish nervousness the word of command.

    The Duel A. I. Kuprin
  • We had a transfer from the 1st battalion who had also been in the Crimea.

    A Soldier's Life Edwin G. Rundle
  • But on the seventh day Charles led a battalion of his biggest, fiercest Germans straight against the Moorish center.

    The Ifs of History Joseph Edgar Chamberlin
  • The battalion with the Colonel was all ready for the bloody charge.

    Bamboo Tales Ira L. Reeves
  • Major McFarland, of the latter, fell nobly at the head of his battalion.

British Dictionary definitions for battalion


a military unit comprised of three or more companies or formations of similar size
(usually pl) any large array
Word Origin
C16: from French bataillon, from Old Italian battaglione, from battaglia company of soldiers, battle
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 battalion

1580s, from Middle French bataillon (16c.), from Italian battaglione "battle squadron," from diminutive of Vulgar Latin battalia "battle," from Latin bauttere "to beat" (see batter (v.)). Specific sense of "part of a regiment" is from 1708.

Madame, lui répondit-il, ne vous y fiez pas: j'ay tôujours vû Dieu do coté des gros Batallions. [E.Boursault, 1702]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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