1. any one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on Charlemagne.
  2. any knightly or heroic champion.
  3. any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.


  1. one of the legendary twelve peers of Charlemagne’s court
  2. a knightly champion

n.1590s, “one of the 12 knights in attendance on Charlemagne,” from Middle French paladin “a warrior” (16c.), from Italian paladino, from Latin palatinus “palace official;” noun use of palatinus “of the palace” (see palace). The Old French form of the word was palaisin (which gave Middle English palasin, c.1400); the Italian form prevailed because, though the matter was French, most of the poets who wrote the romances were Italians.

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