View synonyms for captain


[ kap-tuhn, -tin ]


  1. a person who is at the head of or in authority over others; chief; leader.
  2. an officer ranking in most armies above a first lieutenant and below a major.
  3. an officer in the U.S. Navy ranking above a commander and below a rear admiral or a commodore.
  4. a military leader.
  5. an officer in the police department, ranking above a lieutenant and usually below an inspector.
  6. an officer of the fire department, usually in command of a company, ranking above a lieutenant and below a chief or assistant chief.
  7. the commander of a merchant vessel. Compare staff captain.
  8. the pilot of an airplane.
  9. a local official in a political party responsible for organizing votes on a ward or precinct level.
  10. Sports. the field leader of a team:

    The captain of the home team elected to receive on the kickoff.

  11. a person of great power and influence, especially based on economic wealth.
  12. South Midland and Southern U.S. an unofficial title of respect for a man (sometimes used humorously or ironically).

verb (used with object)

  1. to lead or command as a captain.


/ ˈkæptɪn /


  1. the person in charge of and responsible for a vessel
  2. an officer of the navy who holds a rank junior to a rear admiral but senior to a commander
  3. an officer of the army, certain air forces, and the marine corps who holds a rank junior to a major but senior to a lieutenant
  4. the officer in command of a civil aircraft, usually the senior pilot
  5. the leader of a team in games
  6. a person in command over a group, organization, etc; leader

    a captain of industry

  7. a police officer in charge of a precinct
  8. (formerly) a head waiter
  9. Also calledbell captain a supervisor of bellboys in a hotel
  10. informal.
    a person who is buying drinks for people in a bar
“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


  1. tr to be captain of
“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈcaptaincy, noun
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Other Words From

  • sub·captain noun
  • un·captained adjective
  • under·captain noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of captain1

1325–75; Middle English capitain < Anglo-French capitain, captayn < Late Latin capitāneus chief, equivalent to capit- (stem of caput ) head + -ān ( us ) -an + -eus -eous
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Word History and Origins

Origin of captain1

C14: from Old French capitaine, from Late Latin capitāneus chief, from Latin caput head
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Example Sentences

Ship captains had been threatened, and their nets set ablaze.

Advancing a big story about an arms-dealing sheriff’s captain, Marx got ahold of internal docs that showed the former Sheriff’s Department employee — Marco Garmo — got some cover from his superiors.

Emails show that Dave Myers, then a commander who later tried to unseat Sheriff Bill Gore, passed along the initial tip after another captain noticed that Garmo’s name kept coming up in background checks.

When she complained to a captain, she said he dismissed her.

Forward Kealia Watt was traded upon her request after spending the previous six seasons with the Dash, three as the team’s captain.

He flew with Captain Irianto, 53, who had 20,000 hours experience, more than 6,000 hours on the A320.

The Lion Air captain had left his rookie copilot to make the landing until he realized he was in trouble.

My captain on the boat, Brazakka, he wanted me to do this Hemingway bit, with the white stubble, and he wanted the hero angle.

My nickname was Captain, though I was a private, first class.

They castigated the captain, a 48-year-old Indonesian, and his rookie copilot, a 24-year-old Indian.

C was a Captain, all covered with lace; D was a drunkard, and had a red face.

Being quieted by the Captain with a draught of cold tea, and made to sit down, the examination of the book proceeded.

He sat glum and thoughtful, his mind in unproductive travail, until the captain was announced.

This Captain Kirton was really the best of the Kirton bunch: a quiet, unassuming young man, somewhat delicate in health.

Harry had no further adventures in reaching Fulton, and at once reported to Captain Duffield, who was in command of the post.





captagonCaptain Cooker