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[glad-ee-ey-ter] /ˈglæd iˌeɪ tər/
(in ancient Rome) a person, often a slave or captive, who was armed with a sword or other weapon and compelled to fight to the death in a public arena against another person or a wild animal, for the entertainment of the spectators.
a person who engages in a fight or controversy.
a prizefighter.
Origin of gladiator
1535-45; < Latin gladiātor, equivalent to gladi(us) sword + -ātor -ator Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gladiator
  • At gladiator school neither safety, health as such, or mental well-being was much of a consideration.
  • The gladiator having entered the lists is seeking advice.
  • When a gladiator was vanquished it rested with the spectators to decide whether he should be slain or not.
  • The setting: a gladiator-style arena where jockeys go head-to-head astride rockets.
  • Few of us would consider it morally acceptable to go to a gladiator fight or a dogfight.
  • Other excavations in the area have revealed gladiator epitaphs, a circus for chariot races, and thermal baths.
  • Some were accused of instigating gladiator-style prizefights in the cell blocks.
  • In any case, prime-time gladiator shows would ensure dramatic balance, the blood of the crime answered by the blood of the arena.
  • Age-old gladiator sandals hold a fearsome appeal among today's style arbiters.
  • He was a meat-eating, knuckle-dragging gladiator, and the company was frothing with anticipation at the clash.
British Dictionary definitions for gladiator


(in ancient Rome and Etruria) a man trained to fight in arenas to provide entertainment
a person who supports and fights publicly for a cause
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: swordsman, from gladius sword
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 gladiator

mid-15c., "Roman swordsman," from Latin gladiator, literally "swordsman," from gladius "sword," probably from Gaulish (cf. Welsh cleddyf, Cornish clethe, Breton kleze "sword;" see claymore). Old Irish claideb is from Welsh.

The close connection with Celtic words for 'sword', together with the imperfect match of initial consonants, and the semantic field of weaponry, suggests that Latin borrowed a form *gladio- or *kladio- (a hypothetical variant of attested British Celtic *kladimo- 'sword') from [Proto-Celtic] or from a third language. [de Vaan]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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