[ baj ]
/ bædʒ /
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a special or distinctive mark, token, or device worn as a sign of allegiance, membership, authority, achievement, etc.: a police badge; a merit badge.
any emblem, token, or distinctive mark: He considered a slide rule as the badge of an engineering student.
a card bearing identifying information, as one's name, symbol or place of employment, or academic affiliation, and often worn pinned to one's clothing.
Digital Technology. digital badge.
verb (used with object), badged, badg·ing.
to furnish or mark with a badge.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of badge

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English baggys (plural); akin to Anglo-French bage “badge, emblem”; further origin unknown


badgeless, adjectiveun·badged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does badge mean?

A badge is a small object or card used to identify oneself in an official way. Most commonly, badge refers to the small metal medallion worn or carried by police officers or other law enforcement members. They’re often shaped like shields or stars.

Badge also commonly refers to the official identification card of a worker, especially one that’s pinned to their clothing or worn on a lanyard or cord around their neck. Such badges are often used for security purposes—having a badge allows a worker to enter the building or access certain parts of it.

Example: You pull another stunt like that and I’ll have you turn in your badge, Officer Hotshot!

Where does badge come from?

The first records of the word badge come from the 1300s. It comes from the Middle English word bag(g)e. The word was first used to refer to symbols worn by knights to identify themselves and the person they worked for.

The word badge appears in a very famous—and often misquoted—movie line from the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. During a standoff with  bandits who identify themselves as mounted police, the character played by Humphrey Bogart asks, “If you’re the police, where are your badges?” The leader of the bandits, played by Alfonso Bedoya, famously responds: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” (Many people misquote the line as “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”)

The stinkin’ badges he’s talking about are the metal kind worn by police officers to identify themselves as legitimate police officers. Bogie was right to be suspicious—no badges means they’re not cops.

Badges are used in other scenarios to indicate that someone has some kind of official or legitimate status. Employees at large office buildings often wear badges that are essentially ID cards. Visitors to such buildings may be given a badge that identifies them as visitors. Journalists attending events usually wear similar badges (often called press badges) to identify themselves as members of the press.

Another type of badge is a merit badge, which is a small patch earned by kids in scouting programs like the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts for completing projects and participating in certain activities.

Sometimes, a badge is more of a symbol, as in the phrase badge of honor, meaning something that’s an expression of pride.

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What are some other forms related to badge?

  • badgeless (adjective)
  • unbadged (adjective)

What are some words that share a root or word element with badge



What are some words that often get used in discussing badge?


How is badge used in real life?

There are all kinds of badges, but the word is most commonly used to refer to police badges and identification badges worn by employees.



Try using badge!

Is badge used correctly in the following sentence?

If you don’t display your badge to the security guards, they won’t let you in the building.

How to use badge in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for badge

/ (bædʒ) /

a distinguishing emblem or mark worn to signify membership, employment, achievement, etc
any revealing feature or mark

Word Origin for badge

C14: from Norman French bage; related to Anglo-Latin bagia
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