sergeant

[sahr-juh nt]
noun
  1. a noncommissioned army officer of a rank above that of corporal.
  2. U.S. Air Force. any noncommissioned officer above the rank of airman first class.
  3. a police officer ranking immediately below a captain or a lieutenant in the U.S. and immediately below an inspector in Britain.
  4. a title of a particular office or function at the court of a monarch (often used in combination): sergeant of the larder; sergeant-caterer.
  5. sergeant at arms.
  6. Also called sergeant at law. British. (formerly) a member of a superior order of barristers.
  7. sergeantfish.
  8. (initial capital letter) a surface-to-surface, single-stage, U.S. ballistic missile.
  9. a tenant by military service, below the rank of knight.
Also especially British, ser·jeant (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 formsser·gean·cy [sahr-juh n-see] /ˈsɑr dʒən si/, ser·geant·ship, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for sergeant at law

sergeant at law

noun
  1. a variant spelling of serjeant at law

sergeant

noun
  1. 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
  2. See sergeant at arms
  3. a court or municipal officer who has ceremonial duties
  4. (formerly) a tenant by military service, not of knightly rank
  5. See serjeant at law
Also: serjeant
Derived Formssergeancy (ˈsɑːdʒənsɪ) or sergeantship, noun

Word Origin for sergeant

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

Word Origin and History for sergeant at law

sergeant

n.

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