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[sep-ter] /ˈsɛp tər/
a rod or wand borne in the hand as an emblem of regal or imperial power.
royal or imperial power or authority; sovereignty.
verb (used with object)
to give a scepter to; invest with authority.
Also, especially British, sceptre.
1250-1300; Middle English (s)ceptre < Old French < Latin scēptrum < Greek skêptron staff; akin to shaft
Related forms
scepterless, adjective
[sep-truh l] /ˈsɛp trəl/ (Show IPA),
unsceptered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for scepter
  • He wears a carved watermelon rind crown and holds a watermelon vine scepter.
  • If someone were to tap him with the scepter he holds, he would surely shatter.
  • It depicts a mace or scepter used by the chiefs or high priests in special ceremonies and rituals.
  • And they have more garish, naughty and irreverent song-and-dance routines than you can shake a scepter at.
British Dictionary definitions for scepter


a ceremonial staff held by a monarch as the symbol of authority
imperial authority; sovereignty
(transitive) to invest with authority
Derived Forms
sceptred, (US) sceptered, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French sceptre, from Latin scēptrum, from Greek skeptron staff
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 scepter

c.1300, ceptre, from Old French sceptre (12c.), from Latin sceptrum "royal staff," from Greek skeptron "staff to lean on; royal scepter;" in transferred use, "royalty," from root of skeptein "to prop or stay, lean on." Apparently a cognate with Old English sceaft (see shaft (n.1)). The verb meaning "to furnish with a scepter" is from 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for scepter

ornamented rod or staff borne by rulers on ceremonial occasions as an emblem of authority and sovereignty. The primeval symbol of the staff was familiar to the Greeks and Romans and to the Germanic tribes in various forms (baculus, "long staff"; sceptrum, "short staff") and had various significances. The staff of command belonged to God as well as to the earthly ruler; there were the old man's staff, the messenger's wand, the shepherd's crook, and, derived from it, the bishop's, and so on.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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