Definition of testudo in English:



  • 1(in ancient Rome) a wheeled screen with an arched roof, used to protect besieging troops.

    • ‘It was usually the same men in each testudo as each had to know exactly where he was to be placed.’
    • ‘When the bombardment failed, Salisbury's men built a testudo or "tortoise," a wheeled covered shed under which his men worked battering rams.’
    • ‘Miles did attempt to make a contribution to operations in Cuba, in the form of a little invention based on the ancient Roman testudo.’
    1. 1.1 A protective screen formed by a body of troops holding their shields above their heads in such a way that the shields overlap.
      • ‘Roman soldiers used to form a testudo or tortoise, by some putting their shields over their heads and others in front.’
      • ‘The testudo, the tortoise formation, involved raising the scutums into a shell.’


Late Middle English: from Latin, literally ‘tortoise’, from testa ‘tile, shell’.