Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A subdivision of a company of troops consisting of two or more squads or sections and usually commanded by a lieutenant.
  • n. A group of people working, traveling, or assembled together: a platoon of firefighters; buses carrying platoons of tourists.
  • n. Sports A group of players within a team, especially a football team, that is trained and sent into or withdrawn from play as a unit: the defensive platoon.
  • transitive v. To play (a player) in alternation with another player in the same position: platooned the two catchers.
  • intransitive v. To use alternate players at the same position.
  • intransitive v. To take turns playing a position with another player.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A unit of thirty to forty soldiers typically commanded by a lieutenant and forming part of a company.
  • v. To alternate starts with a teammate of opposite handedness, depending on the handedness of the opposing pitcher

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Formerly, a body of men who fired together; also, a small square body of soldiers to strengthen the angles of a hollow square.
  • n. Now, in the United States service, half of a company.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small body of soldiers or musketeers, drawn out of a battalion of foot to form a hollow square to strengthen the angles of some military formation or position; or, a small body acting together, but separate from the main body.
  • n. A number of soldiers, as large as is convenient for drill, etc., drawn up in two ranks, usually from 15 to 25 in each rank; hence (since a company of infantry is habitually divided into two platoons), half of a company considered as a separate body.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a military unit that is a subdivision of a company; usually has a headquarters and two or more squads; usually commanded by a lieutenant
  • n. a team of policemen working under the military platoon system
  • n. a group of persons who are engaged in a common activity

Etymologies

French peloton, from Old French, diminutive of pelote, ball; see pellet.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From obsolete French plauton, variant of peloton, from Middle French pelote + -on. Compare pellet. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That's because there isn't one specific focal character; if anything, the platoon is the focal character.

    Archive 2010-02-01

  • The platoon is also required to promote an uneasy hearts-and-minds policy among notionally friendly locals.

    Restrepo - review

  • The Navy announced last year it would name a destroyer after Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who used his helmet and body to cover a grenade in Iraq on April 14, 2004, protecting members of his platoon from the bulk of the blast, according to the Department of Defense's "Heroes in the War on Terror" website.

    Navy to name destroyers after 2 combat heroes

  • The natural strength of a platoon is understrength.

    Sometimes It’s Cleverest to Keep Your Sources Secret

  • In the current report, we are told that the situation became so serious that a platoon from the 3Bn the Parachute Regiment refused to go out on patrol until the problem was resolved.

    It can be revealed…

  • A platoon is typically less than thirty men, and a squad is eight or less.

    Think Progress » New investigation.

  • This year's blue-line platoon is a fairly uninspiring lot in Red Line's view.

    USATODAY.com - Getting defensive with this year's NHL draft crop

  • "Testing was conducted on an unwitting platoon from the 75th Ranger Regiment."

    The Flirty Dozen

  • The platoon is normally escorted by armed Humvees and helicopters, but did not have that support Wednesday, McClenny told her mother.

    10/15/2004

  • Toon; I suppose that's what the word platoon has become, with time.

    The Return

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