"passing the baton"

Posted by ESC on January 20, 2004

In Reply to: Origin of "passing the baton" posted by steven on January 20, 2004

: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase:

: "passing the baton"

I have heard the expression. But I haven't been able to find anything in my references. I am guessing that it refers to passing a baton during a race. See No. 5 (Merriam-Webster online):

Main Entry: ba·ton
Pronunciation: b&-'tän, ba-, -'tOn also 'ba-t&n
Function: noun
Etymology: French bâton, from Old French baston, from Late Latin bastum stick
Date: 1520
1 : CUDGEL, TRUNCHEON; specifically : BILLY CLUB
2 : a staff borne as a symbol of office
3 : a narrow heraldic bend
4 : a slender rod with which a leader directs a band or orchestra
5 : a hollow cylinder carried by each member of a relay team and passed to the succeeding runner
6 : a hollow metal rod with a weighted bulb at one or both ends that is flourished or twirled by a drum major or drum majorette