c. 1200, "a Roman legion," from Old French legion "squad, band, company, Roman legion," from Latin legionem (nominative legio) "Roman legion, body of soldiers, a levy of troops," from legere "to gather; to choose, pick out, select," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Tucker writes that "The common sense is 'pick,'" but it is unclear whether the use here is "picking up or picking out." Roughly 3,000 to 6,000 men, under Marius usually with attached cavalry. "The legions were numbered in the order of their levy, but were often known by particular names" [Lewis].
The great power of the Roman legion was due to its rigid discipline and its tactical formation in battle, which was so open and flexible as to enable it to meet every emergency without surprise or derangement.
Generalized sense of "a large number of persons" (c. 1300) is due to translations of the allusive phrase in Mark v.9. Of modern military bodies from 1590s. American Legion, U.S. association of ex-servicemen, founded in 1919. Legion of Honor is French légion d'honneur, an order of distinction founded by Napoleon in 1802. Foreign Legion is French légion étrangère "body of foreign volunteers in a modern army," originally Polish, Belgian, etc. units in French army; they traditionally served in colonies or distant expeditions. Related: Legionary.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak" on the notion of "to gather words, to pick out words."
It forms all or part of: alexia; analects; analogous; analogue; analogy; anthology; apologetic; apologue; apology; catalogue; coil; colleague; collect; college; collegial; Decalogue; delegate; dialect; dialogue; diligence; doxology; dyslexia; eclectic; eclogue; elect; election; epilogue; hapax legomenon; homologous; horology; ideologue; idiolect; intelligence; lectern; lectio difficilior; lection; lector; lecture; leech (n.2) "physician;" legacy; legal; legate; legend; legible; legion; legislator; legitimate; lesson; lexicon; ligneous; ligni-; logarithm; logic; logistic; logo-; logogriph; logopoeia; Logos; -logue; -logy; loyal; monologue; neglect; neologism; philology; privilege; prolegomenon; prologue; relegate; sacrilege; select; syllogism; tautology; trilogy.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek legein "to say, tell, speak, declare; to count," originally, in Homer, "to pick out, select, collect, enumerate;" lexis "speech, diction;" logos "word, speech, thought, account;" Latin legere "to gather, choose, pluck; read," lignum "wood, firewood," literally "that which is gathered," legare "to depute, commission, charge," lex "law" (perhaps "collection of rules"); Albanian mb-ledh "to collect, harvest;" Gothic lisan "to collect, harvest," Lithuanian lesti "to pick, eat picking;" Hittite less-zi "to pick, gather."
Cestre (1086), from Old English Legacæstir (735) "City of the Legions," from Old English ceaster "Roman town or city," from Latin castrum "fortified place" (see castle (n.)). A post-Roman name; the place was the base of the Second Legion Adiutrix in the 70s C.E. and later the 20th Legion Valeria Victrix, but the town's name in Roman times was Deoua (c. 150 C.E.), from its situation on the River Dee, a Celtic river name meaning "the goddess, the holy one."
In reference to U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), Lincolnesque is from 1894 (earliest reference is to the beard); Lincolniana is from 1862.
late 14c., "having no deficiency, wanting no part or element; perfect in kind or quality; finished, ended, concluded," from Old French complet "full," or directly from Latin completus, past participle of complere "to fill up, complete the number of (a legion, etc.)," transferred to "fulfill, finish (a task)," from com-, here probably as an intensive prefix (see com-), + plere "to fill" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill").
also garrotte, 1620s, "Spanish method of capital punishment by strangulation," from Spanish garrote "stick for twisting cord" (the method used in the execution), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French guaroc "club, stick, rod, shaft of a crossbow," probably ultimately Celtic, but possibly from Frankish *wrokkan "to twist" (cognate with Middle Dutch wroken "to twist").
I have no hesitation in pronouncing death by the garrot, at once the most manly, and the least offensive to the eye. [Major John Richardson, "British Legion," 1837]
1530s, "one hundred" (of anything), from Latin centuria "group of one hundred" of things of one kind (including a measure of land and a division of the Roman army, one-sixteenth of a legion, headed by a centurion), from centum "hundred" (see hundred) on analogy of decuria "a company of ten."
Used in Middle English from late 14c. as a division of land, from Roman use. The Modern English meaning "period of 100 years," reckoned from any starting point, is attested from 1650s, short for century of years (1620s). Latin centuria was not used in the sense "one hundred years," for which saeculum was the word (see secular). The older, general sense is preserved in the meaning "score of 100 points" in cricket and some other sports. The century-plant (American aloe), 1843, was believed to bloom only after a century of growth.