While the word legion has its origins in Ancient Rome, it’s still a word with new uses today — here’s what you need to know about legion’s meaning!
The word legion is one of the most exciting words when it comes to shifting meanings over the course of time. While this word was once used to only describe the world-famous Roman legion of ancient times, its implications have slowly moved to define nearly any significant number of people. Whether it’s talking about a large military unit or just a bunch of fans, the word legion is still relevant, even after thousands of years.
Here is everything you need to know about what legion means, where it comes from, and how it is used in the world today.
What Does the Word Legion Mean?
The word “legion” (le-gion, ˈliːdʒən, ˈlidʒən) has two primary meanings, both of which allude to a large group or army. One meaning is a group of people, specifically soldiers. The other meaning is a vast number, as in “a legion of admirers.”
When you hear “legion,” you might think of the American Legion or the French Foreign Legion, which are named after the Roman army. In Latin, legio means both a military unit and a large number. The word was used in English to refer to a large group of soldiers until the mid-18th century, when it took on its more general meaning of “a great multitude” or a large number.
These days, we most often use legion to describe a large group or collection. For example, you might talk about your legion of fans or your legion of admirers.
Even though the definition of legion has gotten much more comprehensive, it is still widely used within the context of military groups. For example, a modern American legion is a semimilitary unit that functions as an association of ex-servicemen.
Where Does the Word Legion Come From?
The word legion has been around for a long time, dating back to the Roman army of the Middle Ages. The word for legion in Latin was rooted in the Latin legio, meaning “an army,” and legere, meaning “to choose.” It entered Old French as legeon or legioun, which became légion in Modern French, and then appeared in Middle English as legion around 1200 AD.
The first sense of the noun that appeared in English was “a great multitude,” but it eventually shifted to its current meaning of “a large body of troops.”
Examples of legion being used in various contexts date back to ancient times, long before the English language was popularized throughout the world. Despite that, the concept of the word itself has been in use for a very long time.
What Are the Historical Origins of Legions?
In Ancient Rome, legions were composed of foot soldiers called legionaries. These were organized into groups of thousands of men, which became known as legions. As you might guess from the word’s connection to the army, there is a sense of orderliness surrounding it — it’s not just any mass of people but one that is well-organized and disciplined.
The association with choosing has given rise to another use of legion, where it describes someone who has been chosen for or chooses to participate in a particular task.
The word legion has been used to describe many people, things, or ideas. For example, another standard historical reference is in the New Testament, where a group of demons identified as “Legion.” This is one of how legions have come to be placed in forms that aren’t necessarily military-based.
Example Sentences Using the Word Legion
While any average English dictionary or thesaurus will just give you the definition of the legion and some word lists of synonyms or antonyms, we want to do more. People learn to speak and use language by seeing words used in context, and we want to help with that as well!
Here are some great example sentences that can help you to understand the word in real-world situations:
This country has legions of unemployed people everywhere, despite the government’s best efforts.
The national organization has legions of supporters, almost to the point that the country’s large military force wasn’t sure they could control them.
There were legions of Polish and Korean people who lived in that city, primarily because of its open stances on immigration.
There are legions of people who have suffered indignities far worse than seeing a couple of screws fall out at Bunnings.
The British legion of fans of the band outnumbers the fans in any other single country by a ratio of three to one.
There were legions of website followers that expressed their disappointment in how the “word of the day” was shut down, so the website reinstated it.
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