Music. a wand used by a conductor.
a rod of lightweight metal fitted with a weighted bulb at each end and carried and twirled by a drum major or majorette.
Track. a hollow rod of wood, paper, or plastic that is passed during a race from one member of a relay team to the next in a prescribed area.
a staff, club, or truncheon, especially one serving as a mark of office or authority.

a diminutive of the bend sinister, couped at the extremities: used in England as a mark of bastardy.
a similar diminutive of the ordinary bend.

Contemporary Examples

That means a lot of kids are going to come to baton Rouge and try college for a while, not like it, and leave.
Liberals’ College Hoops Pity Party Michael Tomasky March 20, 2014

But this report shows that services, which comprise most of the U.S. economy, are now carrying the baton.
195,000 New Jobs? Sounds Like a Recovery Spring Daniel Gross July 4, 2013

Heads of government have picked up the baton at the U.N. and later this week at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Now Is the Best Chance for a Climate Deal Tony Blair, Nicholas Stern September 21, 2009

Tonight, the N.Y. Philharmonic’s baton is passed to Alan Gilbert, who wants to mash up the orchestra with metal and jazz.
The 21st-Century Maestro Rachel Syme September 14, 2009

You see, as far as passing the baton down, Michael used to look at Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and James Brown.
Quincy Jones Talks Chicago’s Mean Streets, Why Kanye West Is No Michael Jackson, and Bieber Marlow Stern September 24, 2014

Historical Examples

He looks very impressive, with his cocked hat and marshal’s baton.
Thomas Hardy’s Dorset Robert Thurston Hopkins

“Then give me a baton,” she responded, springing to her feet.
The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark

Honestly, if baton Rouge has to be shelled, I shall hate to miss the fun.
A Confederate Girl’s Diary Sarah Margan Dawson

Glory and the field-marshal’s baton, after fifty-one years of hard work!
How to Succeed Orison Swett Marden

Perczel respectfully saluted him, and placed the marshal’s baton in his hand.
Hungarian Sketches in Peace and War Mr Jkai

a thin stick used by the conductor of an orchestra, choir, etc, to indicate rhythm or expression

a short stick carried for use as a weapon, as by a policeman; truncheon
(as modifier): a baton charge

(athletics) a short bar carried by a competitor in a relay race and transferred to the next runner at the end of each stage
a long stick with a knob on one end, carried, twirled, and thrown up and down by a drum major or drum majorette, esp at the head of a parade
a staff or club carried by an official as a symbol of authority
(heraldry) a single narrow diagonal line superimposed on all other charges, esp one curtailed at each end, signifying a bastard line

1540s, “a staff used as a weapon,” from French bâton “stick, walking stick, staff, club, wand,” from Old French baston (12c.) “stick, staff, rod,” from Late Latin bastum “stout staff,” probably of Gaulish origin or else from Greek *baston “support,” from bastazein “to lift up, raise, carry.” Meaning “staff carried as a symbol of office” is from 1580s; musical sense of “conductor’s wand” is from 1841 (from 1839 as a French word in English). Often anglicized 17c.-18c. as batoon.

A stick used by some conductors of choruses or orchestras. The baton is traditionally used to indicate the tempo of the music.


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