The Battery Got Battered

Suddenly the joint swelled with patter, chatter and, jabber. The high school kids had arrived and were swilling their coffee-tinged white foam beverages. I was still ensconced in my office, long after consulting with “Batman,” burrowing in the bat etymologies.

Batter_Philly_artBatter in baseball is someone who bats and batter, as in cake or frying batter, is something that gets beaten or battered. Obviously. But why do sailors “batten down the hatches”? Batten, a variant of baton, refers to various kinds of strips of wood, such as those used to support laths, or, in the theater, one for carrying lights or supporting scenery. On a ship battens are used to fasten down the edges of the tarpaulin fixed over the hatchways to keep out the water in bad weather.

320px-Battery_ParkWhat about battery?  I understand the why it means ‘the action of beating or battering,’ as in “assault and battery.” It also means ‘the apparatus used in battering or beating’ and so ‘a number of pieces of artillery placed in juxtaposition for combined action.’ From there it was extended to mean ‘the platform or fortified work, on or within which artillery is mounted.’ So that’s what The Battery in New York City is. It was battered itself recently.

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