[kap-tuh n, -tin]


verb (used with object)

to lead or command as a captain.

Origin of captain

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
Related formssub·cap·tain, nounun·cap·tained, adjectiveun·der·cap·tain, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for captaining

Contemporary Examples of captaining

Historical Examples of captaining

British Dictionary definitions for captaining



the person in charge of and responsible for a vessel
an officer of the navy who holds a rank junior to a rear admiral but senior to a commander
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
the officer in command of a civil aircraft, usually the senior pilot
the leader of a team in games
a person in command over a group, organization, etc; leadera captain of industry
US a police officer in charge of a precinct
US and Canadian (formerly) a head waiter
Also called: bell captain US and Canadian a supervisor of bellboys in a hotel
Australian informal a person who is buying drinks for people in a bar


(tr) to be captain of
Derived Formscaptaincy or captainship, noun

Word Origin for captain

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

Word Origin and History for captaining



1590s, from captain (n.). Related: Captained; captaining.



late 14c., capitayn, "a leader, chief, one who stands at the head of others," from Old French capitaine "captain, leader," from Late Latin capitaneus "chief," noun use of adjective capitaneus "prominent, chief," from Latin caput (genitive capitis) "head" (see capitulum).

Military sense of "officer who commands a company" (rank between major and lieutenant) is from 1560s; naval sense of "officer who commands a man-of-war" is from 1550s, extended to "master or commander of a vessel of any kind" by 1704. Sporting sense is first recorded 1823.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper