- (in ancient Rome) a person, often a slave or captive, who was armed with a sword or other weapon and compelled to fight to the death in a public arena against another person or a wild animal, for the entertainment of the spectators.
- a person who engages in a fight or controversy.
- a prizefighter.
- (in ancient Rome and Etruria) a man trained to fight in arenas to provide entertainment
- a person who supports and fights publicly for a cause
mid-15c., “Roman swordsman,” from Latin gladiator, literally “swordsman,” from gladius “sword,” probably from Gaulish (cf. Welsh cleddyf, Cornish clethe, Breton kleze “sword;” see claymore). Old Irish claideb is from Welsh.
The close connection with Celtic words for ‘sword’, together with the imperfect match of initial consonants, and the semantic field of weaponry, suggests that Latin borrowed a form *gladio- or *kladio- (a hypothetical variant of attested British Celtic *kladimo- ‘sword’) from [Proto-Celtic] or from a third language. [de Vaan]