• synonyms


[buh-tal-yuh n]
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  1. Military. a ground force unit composed of a headquarters and two or more companies or similar units.
  2. an army in battle array.
  3. Often battalions. a large number of persons or things; force: battalions of bureaucrats.
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Origin of battalion

1580–90; < Middle French bataillon < Italian battaglione large squadron of soldiers, equivalent to battagli(a) battalia + -one augmentative suffix
Related formssub·bat·tal·i·on, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for battalion


  1. a military unit comprised of three or more companies or formations of similar size
  2. (usually plural) any large array
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Word Origin

C16: from French bataillon, from Old Italian battaglione, from battaglia company of soldiers, battle
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 battalion


1580s, from Middle French bataillon (16c.), from Italian battaglione "battle squadron," from diminutive of Vulgar Latin battalia "battle," from Latin bauttere "to beat" (see batter (v.)). Specific sense of "part of a regiment" is from 1708.

Madame, lui répondit-il, ne vous y fiez pas: j'ay tôujours vû Dieu do coté des gros Batallions. [E.Boursault, 1702]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper