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batten1

[bat-n]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to thrive by feeding; grow fat.
  2. to feed gluttonously or greedily; glut oneself.
  3. to thrive, prosper, or live in luxury, especially at the expense of others: robber barons who battened on the poor.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to thrive by or as if by feeding; fatten.
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Origin of batten1

1585–95; apparently < Old Norse batna to improve; cognate with Gothic gabatnan (bati change for the better + -na infinitive suffix). Compare Old English bet, Gothic batis, Old High German baz better

batten2

[bat-n]
noun
  1. a small board or strip of wood used for various building purposes, as to cover joints between boards, reinforce certain doors, or supply a foundation for lathing.
  2. a transverse iron or steel strip supporting the flooring strips of a metal fire escape.
  3. Nautical.
    1. a thin strip of wood inserted in a sail to keep it flat.
    2. a thin, flat length of wood or metal used for various purposes, as to hold the tarpaulin covering a hatch in place.
  4. Shipbuilding. a flexible strip of wood used for fairing the lines of a hull on the floor of a mold loft.
  5. Theater.
    1. Also called pipe batten.a length of metal pipe hung from the gridiron, for suspending scenery or equipment, as drops, flats, or lighting units.
    2. a narrow strip of lumber for constructing, reinforcing, or joining flats.
    3. a similar strip attached to a drop to keep it flat or taut.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to furnish or bolster with battens.
  2. Nautical. to cover (a hatch) so as to make watertight (usually followed by down).
  3. Machinery. to secure (work) to a table or bed for a machining operation.
  4. Building Trades. to join or assemble (a steel column or the like) with batten plates.
  5. Theater.
    1. to suspend (scenery, stage lights, etc.) from a batten.
    2. to fasten a batten to (a flat or drop).
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Origin of batten2

1400–50; late Middle English bataunt, batent finished board < Old French batant, noun use of past participle of batre to beat; see bate2, -ant
Related formsbat·ten·er, noun

batten3

[bat-n]Textiles.
noun
  1. (in a loom) the swinging frame for holding and positioning the reed.
  2. a part of the lay of a loom.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to beat (filling yarn) into place with the batten.
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Origin of batten3

1825–35; alteration of French battant; see batten1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for battening

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The monsters who had hovered about his neck were battening on his vitals now.

  • The world to him was a body full of wounds on which he was battening his Neronic lusts.

    The Goose Man

    Jacob Wassermann

  • Here the meaner reptiles--active and prolific--might be seen busily at work, battening on human decay.

    A Love Story

    A Bushman

  • One hundred and fifty years of outlawry had made the Frochard clan a wolfish breed; battening on crime, thievery and beggary.

    Orphans of the Storm

    Henry MacMahon

  • That looks as though they were battening down the hatches for the next big engagement.


British Dictionary definitions for battening

batten1

noun
  1. a sawn strip of wood used in building to cover joints, provide a fixing for tiles or slates, support lathing, etc
  2. a long narrow board used for flooring
  3. a narrow flat length of wood or plastic inserted in pockets of a sail to give it proper shape
  4. a lath used for holding a tarpaulin along the side of a raised hatch on a ship
  5. theatre
    1. a row of lights
    2. the strip or bar supporting them
  6. Also called: dropper NZ an upright part of a fence made of wood or other material, designed to keep wires at equal distances apart
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verb
  1. (tr) to furnish or strengthen with battens
  2. batten down the hatches
    1. to use battens in nailing a tarpaulin over a hatch on a ship to make it secure
    2. to prepare for action, a crisis, etc
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Derived Formsbattening, noun

Word Origin

C15: from French bâton stick; see baton

batten2

verb
  1. (intr usually foll by on) to thrive, esp at the expense of someone elseto batten on the needy
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Word Origin

C16: probably from Old Norse batna to improve; related to Old Norse betr better 1, Old High German bazzen to get better

Batten

noun
  1. Jean . 1909–82, New Zealand aviator: the first woman to fly single-handed from Australia to Britain (1935)
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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

Word Origin and History for battening

batten

v.2

"to furnish with battens," 1775, from batten (n.); phrase batten down recorded from 1823. Related: Battened; battening.

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batten

n.

"strip of wood (especially used to fasten canvas over ships' hatches)," 1650s, anglicized variant of baton "a stick, a staff" (see baton). Nautical use attested from 1769.

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batten

v.1

"to improve; to fatten," 1590s, probably representing an English dialectal survival of Old Norse batna "improve" (cf. Old English batian, Old Frisian batia, Old High German bazen, Gothic gabatnan "to become better, avail, benefit," Old English bet "better;" cf. also boot (v.)). Related: Battened; battening.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper