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 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, "Hegra, an Ancient City in Saudi Arabia Untouched for Millennia, Makes Its Public Debut," 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, "American Express's Newest Centurion Lounge Is Open at JFK," 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, "The global markets sink on Trump’s ‘painful’ warning," 1 Apr. 2020 Tremmel explained that the dagger was probably used by an infantryman or an officer known as a centurion. Fox News, "2,000-year-old silver dagger used by Roman soldier unearthed by scientists," 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, "This production of ‘L’Enfance du Christ’ gets tangled up in current events," 9 Dec. 2019 On Newcastle’s West Road, there are kebab houses and sari shops where there were once centurions and milehouses. The Economist, "Walking the wall: my Brexit hike in northern England," 4 Dec. 2019 And a surprising number of unlikely men and women have done that: Pontius Pilate’s wife and the centurion, according to legend; Saul of Tarsus; et al. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "The Gospel According to Kanye," 7 Nov. 2019 Nevertheless, the England centurion was able to get a tune out of his side during their pre-season preparations. SI.com, "Liverpool vs Chelsea Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 12 Aug. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for centurion

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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 2 Mar. 2021.

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Britannica English: Translation of centurion for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about centurion

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