cen·​tu·​ri·​on | \ sen-ˈchu̇r-ē-ən How to pronounce centurion (audio) , -ˈtyu̇r-, -ˈtu̇r- \

Definition of centurion

: an officer commanding a Roman century

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In ancient Rome, a century was approximately equal to a company in the U.S. Army, and a centurion was roughly equivalent to a captain. Centurions play a role in the New Testament; Jesus performs a miracle for a centurion in Capernaum, centurions are present at the crucifixion, and in later years St. Paul is arrested by centurions. According to a writer of the time, centurions were chosen for their size and strength, their abilities at swordplay and at throwing missiles, and the quality of their discipline, which was partly shown by how well their soldiers kept their own armor polished.

Examples of centurion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Rossella Tercatin, Caesarea is mentioned several times in the New Testament, including a section in which the apostle Peter baptizes the Roman centurion Cornelius in the city. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Dec. 2021 The centurion-in-waiting gestured at the abundance of keepsakes and thriving plants around her. Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2021 Their recent redesign incorporates some interesting elements from a Roman centurion. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 19 Apr. 2021 Some tombs at Hegra are the final resting places for high-ranking officers and their families, who, according to the writing on their tombs, took the adopted Roman military titles of prefect and centurion to the afterworld with them. Lauren Keith, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2020 Upon entering, visitors are will notice a wall of mosaic tiles glazed in the style of the New York City subway—and produced locally in the Bronx—that have been arranged to depict American Express’s famous centurion mascot. Eric Rosen, Condé Nast Traveler, 5 Oct. 2020 The phrase was evidently uttered by a defiant Roman centurion in the fourth century, during the sack of Rome. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 1 Apr. 2020 Tremmel explained that the dagger was probably used by an infantryman or an officer known as a centurion. Fox News, 1 Mar. 2020 The mise-en-scene was explicitly modern: Roman centurions as immigration officers; Herod sleepless and fearful in a velvet bathrobe; a narrator in blazer and tennis shoes. Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'centurion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of centurion

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for centurion

Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin centurion-, centurio, from centuria

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The first known use of centurion was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Centurion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/centurion. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on centurion

Britannica English: Translation of centurion for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about centurion


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