- Word History, Word Explorer
|part of speech:
||in the U.S. Air Force, Army, or Marine Corps, an officer ranking just below captain; first lieutenant.
||in the U.S. Air Force, Army, or Marine Corps, an officer of the lowest commissioned rank; second lieutenant.
||in the U.S., British, or Canadian Navy, an officer ranking just below a lieutenant commander.
||one who holds a subordinate position or who acts on behalf of a superior.
entered the English language in 1378. It comes from an early French word meaning "one who holds the place of another." Originally, a lieutenant was someone who could be called on to substitute for the king or officer he served.