bas·​tion ˈbas-chən How to pronounce bastion (audio)
: a projecting part of a fortification
a bastion at each of the fort's five corners
: a fortified area or position
bombing island bastions
: stronghold sense 2
the last bastion of academic standardsAmer. Scientist
bastioned adjective

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Bastion is related to bastille (a word now used as a general term for a prison, but probably best known as the name of the Parisian fortress-turned-prison stormed by an angry mob at the start of the French Revolution). It comes from the Italian verb bastire, which means "to build."

Examples of bastion in a Sentence

the rebel army retreated to its bastion in the mountains to regroup
Recent Examples on the Web Star forts, or bastion forts, are a type of fortification that first emerged more than 500 years ago in response to the growing power of cannons on the battlefield, with sloped walls and angled bastions that allowed defenders better coverage above any attackers. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, 8 Nov. 2023 The government has primed itself for battle against the court by portraying it as a bastion of a secular, left-leaning elite and a closed club out of touch with changes sweeping the country. Isabel Kershner,, 10 Aug. 2023 Some in Charleston, the state capital, insist that the Republican primary next spring is the race to watch, a test of whether West Virginia has held onto its populist idiosyncrasies or, like most states to its south, hardened into a bastion of Republican orthodoxy. Campbell Robertson, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2023 While universities are supposed to be bastions of open inquiry, academic freedom and robust debate, the escalating Israel-Hamas war has elevated campus tensions across the country this week, underscoring how much those values have withered as polarization hardens amid the social media age. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2023 The new laws edge the once-purple Colorado nearer the Democratic bastions of California and New York. Jesse Bedayn The Associated Press, Arkansas Online, 1 Oct. 2023 Under pressure to prove their town was no bastion of hate, White residents invited Black neighbors over for meals for months and pledged to close the town’s gaping racial divide. Emmanuel Felton, Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2023 Here was a last bastion of originality, where every night was different. Jeff Weiss, Spin, 21 Aug. 2023 The great bastion of Jewface is, where else, Hollywood. Jody Rosen, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bastion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Middle French, borrowed from Italian bastione, from bastia "small quadrangular fortress" (from an Upper Italian counterpart to Tuscan bastita, from feminine past participle of bastire "to build," probably borrowed from Old Occitan bastir "to weave, build," or its Gallo-Romance ancestor) + -one, augmentative suffix (going back to Latin -ō, -ōn-, suffix of nouns denoting persons with a prominent feature) — more at bastille

First Known Use

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bastion was in 1546


Dictionary Entries Near bastion

Cite this Entry

“Bastion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


bas·​tion ˈbas-chən How to pronounce bastion (audio)
: some place or something that gives protection against attack
a bastion of democracy

More from Merriam-Webster on bastion

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