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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.
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 battalions
  • Now, rival battalions of the supposedly unified army glower at each other from opposite ends of town.
  • And that leaves out entirely the battalions of volunteers.
  • The study population will be drawn from six training battalions, each consisting of an average of six companies.
  • Rarely were the battalions or even the companies at full strength.
  • Several battalions are grouped to form a regiment or a brigade.
  • Tank battalions and mechanized infantry battalions no longer exist.
British Dictionary definitions for battalions


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 battalions



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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