[aw-fuh-ser, of-uh-]
  1. a person who holds a position of rank or authority in the army, navy, air force, or any similar organization, especially one who holds a commission.
  2. a member of a police department or a constable.
  3. a person licensed to take full or partial responsibility for the operation of a merchant ship or other large civilian ship; a master or mate.
  4. a person appointed or elected to some position of responsibility or authority in the government, a corporation, a society, etc.
  5. (in some honorary orders) a member of any rank except the lowest.
  6. Obsolete. an agent.
verb (used with object)
  1. to furnish with officers.
  2. to command or direct as an officer does.
  3. to direct, conduct, or manage.

Origin of officer

1275–1325; Middle English < Anglo-French; Middle French officier < Medieval Latin officiārius, equivalent to Latin offici(um) office + -ārius -ary; see -er2, -ier2
Related formsof·fi·ce·ri·al [aw-fuh-seer-ee-uh l, of-uh-] /ˌɔ fəˈsɪər i əl, ˌɒf ə-/, adjectiveof·fi·cer·less, adjectiveof·fi·cer·ship, of·fi·cer·hood, nounsub·of·fi·cer, nounun·der·of·fi·cer, nounun·of·fi·cered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for subofficer

Historical Examples of subofficer

British Dictionary definitions for subofficer


  1. a subordinate officer


  1. a person in the armed services who holds a position of responsibility, authority, and duty, esp one who holds a commission
  2. See police officer
  3. (on a non-naval ship) any person including the captain and mate, who holds a position of authority and responsibilityradio officer; engineer officer
  4. a person appointed or elected to a position of responsibility or authority in a government, society, etc
  5. a government officiala customs officer
  6. (in the Order of the British Empire) a member of the grade below commander
verb (tr)
  1. to furnish with officers
  2. to act as an officer over (some section, group, organization, etc)
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 subofficer



early 14c., "one who holds an office" (originally a high office), from Old French oficier "officer, official" (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin officarius "an officer," from Latin officium "a service, a duty" (see office). The military sense is first recorded 1560s. Applied to petty officials of justice from 16c.; U.S. use in reference to policemen is from 1880s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper