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legion

[lee-juhn]
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noun
  1. a division of the Roman army, usually comprising 3000 to 6000 soldiers.
  2. a military or semimilitary unit.
  3. the Legion.
    1. American Legion.
    2. foreign legion(def 2).
  4. any large group of armed men.
  5. any great number of persons or things; multitude.
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adjective
  1. very great in number: The holy man's faithful followers were legion.
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Origin of legion

1175–1225; Middle English legi(o)un (< Old French) < Latin legiōn- (stem of legiō) picked body of soldiers, equivalent to leg(ere) to gather, choose, read + -iōn- -ion

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

thronghordeflockmultitudearmymyriadbodydivisiongroupcompanynumberhosttroopdroveroutcloudbrigadephalanxcountlessmany

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British Dictionary definitions for legion

legion

noun
  1. a military unit of the ancient Roman army made up of infantry with supporting cavalry, numbering some three to six thousand men
  2. any large military forcethe French Foreign Legion
  3. (usually capital) an association of ex-servicementhe British Legion
  4. (often plural) any very large number, esp of people
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adjective
  1. (usually postpositive) very large or numerous
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French, from Latin legio, from legere to choose
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 legion

n.

c.1200, from Old French legion "Roman legion" (3,000 to 6,000 men, under Marius usually with attached cavalry), from Latin legionem (nominative legio) "body of soldiers," from legere "to choose, gather," also "to read" (see lecture (n.)).

Generalized sense of "a large number" is due to translations of allusive phrase in Mark v:9. American Legion, U.S. association of ex-servicemen, founded in 1919. Legion of Honor is French légion d'honneur, an order of distinction founded by Napoleon in 1802. Foreign Legion is French légion étrangère "body of foreign volunteers in a modern army," originally Polish, Belgian, etc. units in French army; they traditionally served in colonies or distant expeditions.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper