Printable Version
Pronunciation: (US) -dêr-ri, (UK) -t(ê)-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Mass noun) Beating, multiple blows or strikes. 2. Large number, array, multiplicity. 3. A location fortified to receive and give a multitude of artillery strikes. 4. A device containing multiple cells for storing and emitting charges of DC electricity. 5. Metal objects wrought by hammering.

Notes: Now we have a word, fascinating because of its many seemingly unrelated meanings. It is a noun based on the verb (to) batter, which comes with a personal noun, batterer and a passive adjective, batterable. We must use the present participle, battering, for the action noun and active adjective.

In Play: By far the most often used sense of this word today is the fourth, which seems far removed from the original sense: "Electric cars are powered by a battery of batteries." In the judicial system, it is most often used in the phrase 'assault and battery': "Aly Katz was charged with assault and battery after she attacked her husband for a decade of spousal abuse."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Middle French batterie "beating, battering", based on the verb battre "to beat" + -ery "place of; group of". French inherited its word from Latin battuere "to beat", created from PIE bhau- "to hit", also found in Welsh bathu "to mint", Irish buail "to hit", Scottish Gaelic bat, bata "stick, baton", English beat, bat and battle. Since this word refers to multiple blows, its sense of "multiplicity, manifold" is simply a figurative use. However, in 1748 Benjamin Franklin used it to refer to an array of capacitors contained in one of his experiments. From there it was only a short hop to Alessandro Volta's use of it to refer to an array of electrochemical cells used to store and discharge electricity. The Batteries in Charleston and New York were once battery fortifications. (Now for a word of thanks to Arnaldo Mandel for suggesting today's absolutely fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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