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[sahr-juh nt] /ˈsɑr dʒənt/
a noncommissioned army officer of a rank above that of corporal.
U.S. Air Force. any noncommissioned officer above the rank of airman first class.
a police officer ranking immediately below a captain or a lieutenant in the U.S. and immediately below an inspector in Britain.
a title of a particular office or function at the court of a monarch (often used in combination):
sergeant of the larder; sergeant-caterer.
Also called sergeant at law. British. (formerly) a member of a superior order of barristers.
(initial capital letter) a surface-to-surface, single-stage, U.S. ballistic missile.
a tenant by military service, below the rank of knight.
Also, especially British, serjeant (for defs 1–7, 9)
Origin of sergeant
1150-1200; Middle English sergant, serjant, serjaunt < Old French sergent < Latin servient- (stem of serviēns), present participle of servīre. See serve, -ent
Related forms
[sahr-juh n-see] /ˈsɑr dʒən si/ (Show IPA),
sergeantship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sergeants
Historical Examples
  • There were at least two sergeants, he claimed furiously, whose turn it should have been to go on this arduous mission.

    Last Words Stephen Crane
  • I hope it is still to be seen in the sergeants' mess of the dear old regiment.

    A Soldier's Life Edwin G. Rundle
  • In a big, new, gilded room sailors and sergeants played checkers and more serious Venetians worked out dismal problems in chess.

    Nights Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • In such terms do sergeants denote commanders-in-chief—at a distance.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Horses stamped and snorted; sergeants swore continually; officers nagged and shouted.

    At Suvla Bay John Hargrave
  • Captain Bennett glanced from one to another of his five sergeants.

    The Red Acorn John McElroy
  • Behind us came the sergeants with the remainder, for rear-guard.

    Vanguards of the Plains Margaret McCarter
  • The sergeants hooked their own horses in, and off we went again.

  • sergeants, on that day acting as servants to the men, bore off from the carving-tables plates piled high.

    Our Casualty And Other Stories James Owen Hannay, AKA George A. Birmingham
  • I may as well here give the details about the sergeants of our regiment.

British Dictionary definitions for sergeants


a noncommissioned officer in certain armed forces, usually ranking above a corporal
  1. (in Britain) a police officer ranking between constable and inspector
  2. (in the US) a police officer ranking below a captain
a court or municipal officer who has ceremonial duties
(formerly) a tenant by military service, not of knightly rank
Also serjeant
Derived Forms
sergeancy (ˈsɑːdʒənsɪ), sergeantship, noun
Word Origin
C12: from Old French sergent, from Latin serviēns, literally: serving, from servīre to serve
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 sergeants



c.1200, "servant," from Old French sergent, serjant "(domestic) servant, valet; court official; soldier," from Medieval Latin servientum (nominative serviens) "servant, vassal, soldier" (in Late Latin "public official"), from Latin servientem "serving," present participle of servire "to serve" (see serve (v.)); cognate with Spanish sirviente, Italian servente; a twin of servant, and 16c. writers sometimes use the two words interchangeably.

Specific sense of "military servant" is attested from late 13c.; that of "officer whose duty is to enforce judgments of a tribunal or legislative body" is from c.1300 (sergeant at arms is attested from late 14c.). Meaning "non-commissioned military officer" first recorded 1540s. Originally a much more important rank than presently. As a police rank, in Great Britain from 1839.

Middle English alternative spelling serjeant (from Old French) was retained in Britain in special use as title of a superior order of barristers (c.1300, from legal Latin serviens ad legem, "one who serves (the king) in matters of law"), from which Common Law judges were chosen; also used of certain other officers of the royal household. sergeant-major is from 1570s. The sergeant-fish (1871) so-called for lateral markings resembling a sergeant's stripes. Related: Sergeancy.

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


Related Terms

buck sergeant

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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sergeants in the Bible

Acts 16:35, 38 (R.V., "lictors"), officers who attended the magistrates and assisted them in the execution of justice.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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