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[fas-eez] /ˈfæs iz/
noun, (usually used with a singular verb)
a bundle of rods containing an ax with the blade projecting, borne before Roman magistrates as an emblem of official power.
1590-1600; < Latin, plural of fascis bundle, pack Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for fasces
  • The pedestal is embellished with wreaths and fasces, which are bundles of rods symbolizing governmental authority.
  • The shield shall have a design consisting of emanating sunrays bordered on the top and bottom by representations of a fasces.
  • The lower part of the base is decorated with fasces and wreaths.
British Dictionary definitions for fasces


plural noun (sing) -cis (-sɪs)
(in ancient Rome) one or more bundles of rods containing an axe with its blade protruding; a symbol of a magistrate's power
(in modern Italy) such an object used as the symbol of Fascism
Word Origin
C16: from Latin, plural of fascis bundle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for fasces
1598, from L. fasces "bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade projecting" (pl. of fascis "bundle" of wood, etc.), carried before a lictor, a superior Roman magistrate, as a symbol of power over life and limb: the sticks symbolized punishment by whipping, the axe head execution by beheading. Probably cognate with M.Ir. basc "neckband," Welsh baich "load, burden," O.E. bæst "inner bark of the linden tree."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for fasces

(plural form of Latin fascis: "bundle") in ancient Rome, insignia of official authority. It was carried by the lictors, or attendants, and was characterized by an ax head projecting from a bundle of elm or birch rods about 5 feet (1.5 metres) long and tied together with a red strap; it symbolized penal power. When carried inside Rome, the ax was removed (unless the magistrate was a dictator or general celebrating a triumph) as recognition of the right of a Roman citizen to appeal a magistrate's ruling. The discovery of a miniature iron set of fasces in a 7th-century BC Etruscan tomb at Vetulonia confirms the traditional view that Rome derived the fasces from the Etruscans. The Roman emperors, beginning with Augustus in 19 BC, had 12 fasces, but, after Domitian (reigned AD 81-96), they had 24; dictators, 24; consuls, 12; praetors, 6; legates, 5; priests, 1. Lowering of the fasces was a form of salute to a higher official.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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