General English


  • noun someone who competes in and wins a contest, competition or tournament, either alone or as a member of a team

Origin & History of “champion”

Etymologically, a champion is someone who fought in the campus or arena. Latin campus (source of English camp) meant, among other things, ‘field of battle’ – both a full-scale military battlefield and an area for staged battles between gladiators. those who fought in such battles – the gladiators – were called in medieval Latin campiones. The word passed into English via Old French champion. The word’s original meaning survives historically in such phrases as ‘king’s champion’, someone who will fight on behalf of the king, and by extension in ‘supporter’, as in ‘a champion of prisoners’ rights’. The modern sense ‘winner’ did not develop until the early 19th century. The abbreviated form champ is 19th-century American.

An alternative and now obsolete form of the word is campion, from Old Northern French, and it has been speculated that this is the origin of the plant-name campion (16th c.), on the basis that it was used to make garlands for fighters.