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[buh-ton, ba-, bat-n] /bəˈtɒn, bæ-, ˈbæt n/
Music. a wand used by a conductor.
a rod of lightweight metal fitted with a weighted bulb at each end and carried and twirled by a drum major or majorette.
Track. a hollow rod of wood, paper, or plastic that is passed during a race from one member of a relay team to the next in a prescribed area.
a staff, club, or truncheon, especially one serving as a mark of office or authority.
  1. a diminutive of the bend sinister, couped at the extremities: used in England as a mark of bastardy.
  2. a similar diminutive of the ordinary bend.
Origin of baton
1540-50; < Middle French bâton, Old French baston < Vulgar Latin *bastōn- (stem of *bastō) stick, club; compare Late Latin bastum staff
4. mace, scepter, crosier, rod, wand; fasces; caduceus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for baton
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Then give me a baton," she responded, springing to her feet.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Oh, I'll have to send you to the provost-martial at baton Rouge and let you settle that with him.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • Then the conductor, seeing that the incident was over, raised his baton.

  • As he did so, I loosed a cry of alarm and almost dropped the baton.

  • In his hand was a baton which he brandished demoniacally at an orchestra of his own.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
British Dictionary definitions for baton


/ˈbætən; -tɒn/
a thin stick used by the conductor of an orchestra, choir, etc, to indicate rhythm or expression
  1. a short stick carried for use as a weapon, as by a policeman; truncheon
  2. (as modifier): a baton charge
(athletics) a short bar carried by a competitor in a relay race and transferred to the next runner at the end of each stage
a long stick with a knob on one end, carried, twirled, and thrown up and down by a drum major or drum majorette, esp at the head of a parade
a staff or club carried by an official as a symbol of authority
(heraldry) a single narrow diagonal line superimposed on all other charges, esp one curtailed at each end, signifying a bastard line
Word Origin
C16: from French bâton, from Late Latin bastum rod, probably ultimately from Greek bastazein to lift up, carry
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 baton

1540s, "a staff used as a weapon," from French bâton "stick, walking stick, staff, club, wand," from Old French baston (12c.) "stick, staff, rod," from Late Latin bastum "stout staff," probably of Gaulish origin or else from Greek *baston "support," from bastazein "to lift up, raise, carry." Meaning "staff carried as a symbol of office" is from 1580s; musical sense of "conductor's wand" is from 1841 (from 1839 as a French word in English). Often anglicized 17c.-18c. as batoon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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baton in Culture

baton definition

A stick used by some conductors of choruses or orchestras. The baton is traditionally used to indicate the tempo of the music.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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