any one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on Charlemagne.
any knightly or heroic champion.
any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.

1585–95; < French < Italian paladino < Late Latin palātīnus imperial functionary, noun use of adj.; see palatine1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
paladin (ˈpælədɪn)
1.  one of the legendary twelve peers of Charlemagne's court
2.  a knightly champion
[C16: via French from Italian paladino, from Latin palātīnus imperial official, from PalātiumPalatine²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1592, "one of the 12 knights in attendance on Charlemagne," from M.Fr. paladin "a warrior," from It. paladino, from L. palatinus "palace official;" noun use of palatinus "of the palace" (see palace). The O.Fr. form of the word was palaisin (which gave M.E. palasin, c.1400);
the It. form prevailed because, though the matter was French, the poets who wrote the romances were mostly Italians.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
To some, he's a heroic, farseeing paladin in an industry swimming in self-absorption.
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