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[loo-ten-uh nt; in British use, except in the navy, lef-ten-uh nt] /luˈtɛn ənt; in British use, except in the navy, lɛfˈtɛn ənt/
U.S. Navy. a commissioned officer ranking between lieutenant junior grade and lieutenant commander.
a person who holds an office, civil or military, in subordination to a superior for whom he or she acts:
If he can't attend, he will send his lieutenant.
Origin of lieutenant
1325-75; Middle English < Middle French, noun use of adj. phrase lieu tenant place-holding. See locum tenens, lieu, tenant
Related forms
underlieutenant, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lieutenant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On the Spanish side one lieutenant and one soldier were killed.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • That the vessel had slowed up, lieutenant Raymond of course could not tell.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • This number I reported to the first lieutenant, down on deck.

    A Middy of the King Harry Collingwood
  • "But there are other heroes, lieutenant Hernandez," said the girl.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • Wait till the first lieutenant comes back, sir, and ask him.

    Middy and Ensign G. Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for lieutenant


/lɛfˈtɛnənt; US luːˈtɛnənt/
a military officer holding commissioned rank immediately junior to a captain
a naval officer holding commissioned rank immediately junior to a lieutenant commander
(US) an officer in a police or fire department ranking immediately junior to a captain
a person who holds an office in subordination to or in place of a superior
Derived Forms
lieutenancy, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, literally: place-holding
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lieutenant

late 14c., "one who takes the place of another," from Old French lieu tenant "substitute, deputy," literally "placeholder," from lieu "place" (see lieu) + tenant, present participle of tenir "to hold" (see tenant). The notion is of a "substitute" for higher authority. Specific military sense of "officer next in rank to a captain" is from 1570s. Pronunciation with lef- is common in Britain, and spellings to reflect it date back to 14c., but the origin of this is a mystery (OED rejects suggestion that it comes from old confusion of -u- and -v-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for lieutenant


Related Terms

third lieutenant

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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