Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A log less than 11 inches in diameter at the small end.
  • To become better; improve in condition (especially by feeding); grow fat; thrive.
  • To feed gluttonously; figuratively, gratify a morbid appetite or craving; gloat: absolutely, or with on or upon.
  • Figuratively, to thrive; prosper; live in ease and luxury, especially at the expense or to the detriment of others: with on, formerly also with: as, to batten on ill-gotten gains.
  • To improve by feeding; fatten; make fat or cause to thrive with plenteous feeding.
  • To fertilize or enrich (the soil).
  • To form or fasten with battens.
  • noun A Strip or scantling of wood.
  • noun In com., squared timber of 6 or more feet in length, 7 inches in width, and 2½ inches in thickness, used in carpentry and housebuilding for various purposes. Pieces less than 6 feet long are known as batten-ends.
  • noun In weaving, the beam for striking the weft home; a lathe.

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

  • intransitive verb To grow fat; to grow fat in ease and luxury; to glut one's self.
  • transitive verb To make fat by plenteous feeding; to fatten.
  • transitive verb To fertilize or enrich, as land.
  • transitive verb To furnish or fasten with battens.
  • transitive verb to fasten down with battens, as the tarpaulin over the hatches of a ship during a storm.
  • noun (Com. & Arch.) Sawed timbers about 7 by 2 1/2 inches and not less than 6 feet long.
  • noun (Naut.) A strip of wood used in fastening the edges of a tarpaulin to the deck, also around masts to prevent chafing.
  • noun A long, thin strip used to strengthen a part, to cover a crack, etc.
  • noun (Arch.) a door made of boards of the whole length of the door, secured by battens nailed crosswise.
  • noun The movable bar of a loom, which strikes home or closes the threads of a woof.

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

  • noun A thin strip of wood used in construction to hold members of a structure together or to provide a fixing point.
  • noun nautical A long strip of wood, metal, fibreglass etc used for various purposes aboard ship, especially one inserted in a pocket sewn on the sail in order to keep the sail flat.
  • noun In stagecraft, a long pipe, usually metal, affixed to the ceiling or fly system in a theater.
  • noun The movable bar of a loom, which strikes home or closes the threads of a woof.
  • verb To furnish with battens.
  • verb nautical To fasten or secure a hatch etc using battens.
  • verb intransitive To become better; improve in condition, especially by feeding.
  • verb intransitive To feed on; to revel in.
  • verb intransitive To thrive by feeding; grow fat; feed oneself gluttonously.
  • verb intransitive To thrive, prosper, or live in luxury, especially at the expense of others; fare sumptuously.
  • verb intransitive To gratify a morbid appetite or craving; gloat.
  • verb transitive To improve by feeding; fatten; make fat or cause to thrive due to plenteous feeding.

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

  • verb furnish with battens
  • noun a strip fixed to something to hold it firm
  • noun stuffing made of rolls or sheets of cotton wool or synthetic fiber
  • verb secure with battens

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English  (bataunt, batent, "finished board"), from Old French  (batent, "to beat")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English *battenen, *batnen, of North Germanic origin, from Old Norse batna ("to grow better, improve, recover"), from Proto-Germanic *batnanan (“to become good, get better”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhAd- (“good”). Cognate with Icelandic batna ("to improve, recover"), Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐌱𐌰𐍄𐌽𐌰𐌽 (gabatnan, "to be noteful, profit, boot"), Dutch baten ("to avail, profit, benefit"), Old English batian ("to get better, recover"). More at better.

Examples

Comments

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  • batten its hard to find a better word

    January 16, 2007

  • I knew batten in the sense of "batten down the hatches" but not in the sense of, as m-w.com puts it, "to grow prosperous especially at the expense of another."

    August 10, 2007

  • That's bizarre. I've never heard it in the sense before. I think it is archaic or obsolete or just absurd.

    August 10, 2007

  • I've never heard it before either, knitandpurl. Interesting!

    August 10, 2007

  • I had no recollection of having looked this word up before, but apparently I did! Yet again I encountered it in the sense of "fatten" and was surprised. In The Captive by Proust: "Then, like a famished convalescent already battening upon all the dishes that are still forbidden him ..."

    December 25, 2009

  • (verb) - (1) To fatten, or grow fat. In Sternberg's Folk Lore and Glossary of Northamptonshire 1851, the local phrase is quoted, "Them pigs batten in the sun."

    --Charles Mackay's Lost Beauties of the English Language, 1874

    (2) Fattening and battening, a toast of a child's fattening and thriving given at its baptism in private, when the bread, cheese and whisky are partaken of.

    --Alexander Warrack's Scots Dialect Dictionary, 1911

    January 16, 2018