from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Music A slender wooden stick or rod used by a conductor to direct an orchestra, band, or other musical group.
  • noun A hollow metal rod with a heavy rubber tip or tips that is wielded and twirled by a drum major or drum majorette.
  • noun A short staff carried by certain public officials as a symbol of office.
  • noun Sports The hollow cylinder that is carried by each member of a relay team in a running race and passed to the next team member.
  • noun A short stick carried by police; a billy club.
  • noun Heraldry A shortened narrow bend, often signifying bastardy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A staff or club; a truncheon: carried either for use as a weapon, as a policeman's baton;
  • noun as a mark of authority, as the baton of a field-marshal; or
  • noun as a warrant to do something, as the baton or staff carried in Great Britain by the engineer of a train on a single-track railway, as his authority to proceed.
  • noun In music: The stick or wand used by the leader of a chorus or an orchestra in directing the performance.
  • noun A rest of two or more measures.
  • noun In heraldry, same as baston, 1 .
  • noun Also spelled batton.
  • To strike with a baton; cudgel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A staff or truncheon, used for various purposes.
  • noun (Her.) An ordinary with its ends cut off, borne sinister as a mark of bastardy, and containing one fourth in breadth of the bend sinister; -- called also bastard bar. See Bend sinister.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A staff or truncheon, used for various purposes; as, the baton of a field marshal
  • noun music The stick of a conductor in musical performances.
  • noun sports An object transferred by runners in a relay race.
  • noun A short stout club used primarily by policemen.
  • noun heraldry An abatement in coats of arms to denote illegitimacy. (Also spelled batune, baston).
  • verb To strike with a baton.

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

  • noun a short stout club used primarily by policemen
  • noun a hollow metal rod that is wielded or twirled by a drum major or drum majorette
  • noun a short staff carried by some officials to symbolize an office or an authority
  • noun a hollow cylinder passed from runner to runner in a relay race
  • noun a thin tapered rod used by a conductor to lead an orchestra or choir


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

[French bâton, from Old French baston, stick, from Vulgar Latin *bastō, *bastōn-.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French bâton.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word baton.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Baton twirling was popular among little girls in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since then classes are available to young kids in much the same way as dance lessons are. A twirling baton was considered a toy even though it was also an instrument used by adults in marching bands.

    February 12, 2008

  • ...And a great weapon, those rubber heads notwithstanding. :)

    February 13, 2008

  • Those rubber heads are hard as rock! They'll put a dent in your head as soon as a non-rubber-headed baton will; believe me.

    Signed, Knows Someone Who Has a Baton-Dented Head

    February 13, 2008

  • If you think to yourself "What should I do now?"

    Then take the baton, girl, you better run with it

    There is no point in standing in the past cause it's over and done with.

    (If she wants me, by Belle and Sebastian)

    November 12, 2008