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noun cap·tain \ˈkap-tən also ˈkap-əm\

Simple Definition of captain

  • : a person who is in charge of a ship or an airplane

  • : an officer of high rank in some branches of the military

  • : an officer of high rank in a police or fire department

Full Definition of captain

  1. 1 a (1) :  a military leader :  the commander of a unit or a body of troops (2) :  a subordinate officer commanding under a sovereign or general (3) :  a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a first lieutenant and below a major b (1) :  a naval officer who is master or commander of a ship (2) :  a commissioned officer in the navy ranking above a commander and below a commodore and in the coast guard ranking above a commander and below a rear admiral c :  a senior pilot who commands the crew of an airplane d :  an officer in a police department or fire department in charge of a unit (as a precinct or company) and usually ranking above a lieutenant and below a chief

  2. 2 :  one who leads or supervises: as a :  a leader of a sports team or side b :  headwaiter c :  a person in charge of hotel bellhops —called also bell captain

  3. 3 :  a person of importance or influence in a field <captains of industry>

cap·tain·cy play \ˈkap-tən-sē\ noun
cap·tain·ship play \-ˌship\ noun

Examples of captain

  1. The captain has turned off the fasten seat belt sign.

  2. <the captain is responsible for everything that happens to his ship in the course of a voyage>

Origin of captain

Middle English capitane, from Anglo-French capitain, from Late Latin capitaneus, adjective & noun, chief, from Latin capit-, caput head — more at head

First Known Use: 14th century



verb cap·tain

Simple Definition of captain

  • : to be in charge of (a ship or airplane)

  • : to lead (a team)

Full Definition of captain

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to be captain of :  lead <captained the football team>

Examples of captain

  1. The ship was captained by John Smith.

  2. She captained last year's team.


First Known Use of captain


Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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