[buh-ton, ba-, bat-n]
See more synonyms for baton on
  1. Music. a wand used by a conductor.
  2. a rod of lightweight metal fitted with a weighted bulb at each end and carried and twirled by a drum major or majorette.
  3. 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.
  4. a staff, club, or truncheon, especially one serving as a mark of office or authority.
  5. Heraldry.
    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

Synonyms for baton

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for baton

wand, cudgel, rod, mace, truncheon, nightstick, club, blackjack, staff, billy

Examples from the Web for baton

Contemporary Examples of baton

Historical Examples of baton

  • "Then give me a baton," she responded, springing to her feet.

  • 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


  1. 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
  2. athletics a short bar carried by a competitor in a relay race and transferred to the next runner at the end of each stage
  3. 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
  4. a staff or club carried by an official as a symbol of authority
  5. heraldry a single narrow diagonal line superimposed on all other charges, esp one curtailed at each end, signifying a bastard line

Word Origin for baton

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

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

baton in Culture


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.