from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A commissioned rank in the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard that is above lieutenant junior grade and below lieutenant commander.
  • n. A first lieutenant.
  • n. A second lieutenant.
  • n. One who holds the rank of lieutenant, first lieutenant, or second lieutenant.
  • n. A commissioned officer in the British and Canadian navies ranking just below a lieutenant commander.
  • n. An officer in a police or fire department ranking below a captain.
  • n. One who acts in place of or represents a superior; an assistant or deputy: the organized crime figure and his lieutenants. See Synonyms at assistant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The lowest commissioned officer rank or ranks in many military forces.
  • n. A person who executes the plans and directives of another.
  • adj. A military grade that is junior to the grade the adjective modifies: lieutenant colonel, lieutenant general, lieutenant commander.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An officer who supplies the place of a superior in his absence; a representative of, or substitute for, another in the performance of any duty.
  • n.
  • n. A commissioned officer in the army, next below a captain.
  • n. A commissioned officer in the British navy, in rank next below a commander.
  • n. A commissioned officer in the United States navy, in rank next below a lieutenant commander.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In general, one who holds the place of another in the performance of any duty or function; one authorized to act in lieu of another, or employed to carry out his will or purposes; the substitute or representative of a superior.
  • n. One who holds an office, civil or military, in subordination to or as the representative of a superior; an officer authorized to perform certain functions in the absence or under the orders of another: as, the lieutenant of the Tower of London; the lord lieutenant of Ireland or of an English county (considered the direct representative of the sovereign).
  • n. In archery, the winner of a lieutenancy in a shooting-match.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a commissioned military officer
  • n. an assistant with power to act when his superior is absent
  • n. an officer in a police force
  • n. an officer holding a commissioned rank in the United States Navy or the United States Coast Guard; below lieutenant commander and above lieutenant junior grade


Middle English, deputy, from Old French : lieu, lieu; see lieu + tenant, present participle of tenir, to hold (from Latin tenēre).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French lieu ("place") + tenant ("holding"). (Wiktionary)



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  • I would imagine most German ranks have a certain, ah, crispness to them. The slouching Stabsgefreiter, the innocuous Unterfeldwebel, the genial Generalmajor . . . no, the images just aren't coming through.

    August 15, 2008

  • Ah. Not all looing down, like lieutenant.

    August 15, 2008

  • Well, it's pronounced LOYT-nant. Which I find so... you know... stand-up-straighty.

    August 15, 2008

  • Really? I think it's be far stand-up-straightier with the I.

    August 14, 2008

  • I'm rather fond of the German Leutnant. It just feels official and all stand-up-straighty.

    August 14, 2008

  • The pronunciation with /f/ has no clear explanation, but both modern pronunciations are represented in the earliest uses in English: late 14th-century spellings include lutenand, luf-tenand, lieutenant, lutenaunt, leeftenaunt (with lutenant, levetenaunt as variants of the last in other copies of the manuscript).

    August 14, 2008