Definition of baton in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbat(ə)n/


1A thin stick used by a conductor to direct an orchestra or choir.
Example sentences
  • He waved a hand in the air like he was holding a baton and conducting an orchestra.
  • He leads with an incisive baton and the orchestra and chorus respond with spirit.
  • From the day he raised a baton as principal conductor in Birmingham in 1980, Rattle has been the golden boy of classical music.
stick, rod, staff, wand, bar
1.1A short stick or tube passed from runner to runner in a relay race.
Example sentences
  • Continuing the theme of movement, the third revealed a split screen showing identical images of relay racers passing a baton.
  • They were leading when their third runner dropped the baton before passing it to the anchor.
  • I've heard her talk about this;the third runner knocked the baton out of her hand, her knee came up.
1.2A long stick carried and twirled by a drum major or drum majorette.
Example sentences
  • There might be a Rose Parade all the way to the Hall of Fame with Pete out front twirling the baton if, and when, he becomes eligible.
  • He set scoring records at Niagara and twirled the baton at Buffalo Bills games.
  • On a sunny July 4 morning in Ripley - a town of 3400 souls - he revelled in the festivities as batons twirled and bands marched.
1.3A police officer’s truncheon.
Example sentences
  • They were stopped by scores of riot policemen armed with automatic weapons, batons and water cannons.
  • Around 250 police armed with tear gas, water cannons, batons, shields and automatic weapons attacked the workers when they refused to disperse.
  • Heavily armed riot police used tear gas, water cannon and batons to break up groups of demonstrators and then chased them down side streets.
truncheon, club, cudgel, bludgeon, stick, bat, mace;
North American  nightstick, blackjack;
in Ireland shillelagh
British informal cosh
1.4A staff of office or authority, especially one carried by a field marshal.
Example sentences
  • Victory brought Wellington a field marshal's baton, sensitively designed by the Prince Regent himself.
  • Brauchitsch, having been promoted to general in February 1938, was given his field marshal's baton in July 1940.
  • It is said every soldier carries a field marshal's baton in his knapsack.
1.5A rectangular piece of a vegetable or other food: have plenty of crudités in the fridge, such as carrot batons batons of cheddar cheese
More example sentences
  • Homemade beet kimchi consisted of thick batons of yellow beets steeped in mildly hot chile sauce.
  • Several recipes, including one for grilled vegetables with batons of grilled tofu, make for pleasing vegetarian fare.
  • This cooking skill is all about cutting baton carrots.
1.6 Heraldry A narrow bend truncated at each end.
Example sentences
  • By the 17th century a baton sinister was also used to indicate illegitimacy.
  • With the house of Bourbon the baton distinguished the cadets, while the baton sinister marked the illegitimates.
1.7A short bar replacing some figures on the dial of a clock or watch.
Example sentences
  • Petite baton hands and four baton indicators adorn the dial, which is set in a square goldtone steel case with gentle contours and a beautiful polished shine.
  • It's accented by large luminous white hands, thin white baton markers, and Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o'clock.
  • It features a black face, Arabic figures and baton hour markers, small seconds dial at 9 o’clock, ‘Black Seal’ inscription at 6 o’clock.
1.8 (batons) One of the suits in some tarot packs, corresponding to wands in others.
Example sentences
  • The suits are cups, coins, swords and batons, and each suit contains seven different cards: ace, 3, 4, 5, jack, horse, king.
  • The four latin suits are swords, batons, cups and coins.
  • A 40 card pack is used, usually with the Italian suits: swords, batons, cups and coins.



pass (on) the baton

Hand over a particular duty or responsibility: the technique allows us to pass the baton to the next generation
More example sentences
  • The world's greatest rower for a decade, he needs one last, great race before passing the baton on permanently to his long-term teammate.
  • The day Smith recorded her last album, Billie Holiday walked into the same studio to record her first - like passing on the baton.
  • My life is now busy teaching, studying and preparing for the arrival (in mid-October) of our new baby, so I'm pleased to have passed the baton to Mark.

take up (or pick up) the baton

Accept a particular duty or responsibility: it was left to the capital’s campuses to take up the baton
More example sentences
  • This time last year, another past student, Ruth Maloney, took up the baton as musical director for such school productions and has done a wonderful job.
  • This year, people in 23 other locations around the country took up the baton and organised Goal Miles in their own locality.
  • Their father was a great loss but we were all delighted when Elaine and John decided to take up the baton.

under the baton of

(Of an orchestra or choir) conducted by: the contract also allows for the orchestra to record under the baton of Sir Edward Downes
More example sentences
  • The orchestra will be under the baton of esteemed conductors Philip Edmondson and Richard Nicholls.
  • Director Robert Readman has a strong, capable cast among the Rowntree Players, supported by a fine orchestra under the baton of musical director Mike Thompson.
  • The music lost none of its power as the Queensland Orchestra, under the baton of Tom Woods, brought Francois Klaus's choreography to life.


Early 16th century (denoting a staff or cudgel): from French bâton, earlier baston, from late Latin bastum 'stick'.

  • The original baton was a club or cudgel and came from French, ultimately from Latin bastum ‘stick’. The baton used to direct an orchestra or choir was first mentioned by the music historian Charles Burney (1726–1814) (father of the novelist Fanny Burney) in 1785. The baton passed from hand to hand in a relay race is first mentioned by that name in 1921. This use gives rise to pass on the baton, ‘to hand over a particular duty or responsibility’, and to take up (or pick up) the baton, ‘to accept a duty or responsibility’. The French name of Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, means ‘Red Stick’ in English. It comes from a red-stained Indian boundary marker seen by early French explorers of the area.

Words that rhyme with baton

batten, fatten, flatten, harmattan, Manhattan, Mountbatten, paten, patten, pattern, platen, Saturn, slattern

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: baton

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