• synonyms


noun (usually used with a singular verb)
  1. a bundle of rods containing an ax with the blade projecting, borne before Roman magistrates as an emblem of official power.
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Origin of fasces

1590–1600; < Latin, plural of fascis bundle, pack
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fasces

Historical Examples of fasces

  • He desired not the purple and the fasces, the insignia of vulgar command.

    The Last Days of Pompeii

    Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

  • I ask no splendor, no pomp of triumphs, nor lictors with their fasces.

  • Did you admit a man who was so openly filthy to the fasces and the tribunal?

  • They also carried the fasces, and executed criminal sentences.

    Selections from Viri Romae

    Charles Franois L'Homond

  • The number of fasces and lictors varied with the dignity of the magistrate.

British Dictionary definitions for fasces


pl n singular -cis (-sɪs)
  1. (in ancient Rome) one or more bundles of rods containing an axe with its blade protruding; a symbol of a magistrate's power
  2. (in modern Italy) such an object used as the symbol of Fascism
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Word Origin for fasces

C16: from Latin, plural of fascis bundle
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 fasces


1590s, from Latin fasces "bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade projecting" (plural of fascis "bundle" of wood, etc.), perhaps from PIE *bhasko- "band, bundle" (cf. Middle Irish basc "neckband," Welsh baich "load, burden," Old English bæst "inner bark of the linden tree"). Carried before a lictor, a superior Roman magistrate, as a symbol of power over life and limb: the sticks symbolized punishment by whipping, the axe head execution by beheading.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper