lieu·​ten·​ant | \ lü-ˈte-nənt How to pronounce lieutenant (audio) , British le(f)-\

Definition of lieutenant

1a : an official empowered to act for a higher official The king's lieutenant handled the problem.
b : an aide or representative of another in the performance of duty : assistant Her best lieutenant was working on the proposal.
b : a commissioned officer in the navy or coast guard ranking above a lieutenant junior grade and below a lieutenant commander
c : a fire or police department officer ranking below a captain

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Examples of lieutenant in a Sentence

He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. She has her best lieutenants working on a proposal. one of the mobster's most loyal lieutenants
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Recent Examples on the Web

Pelosi and her top two lieutenants have been in power for more than a decade; a number of younger members had been agitating for change and a fresh face to lead the party for years. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Pelosi officially has the votes to be the next speaker — if she steps down in 2022," 13 Dec. 2018 Her top lieutenant and longtime rival, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, 79, checked into a Washington hospital with pneumonia last week, underscoring the concerns among some in the party about the age of the current leadership. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Republicans and Democrats Face Leadership Struggles as House Returns," 8 July 2018 The Service Employees International Union Local 500, which backed Jealous, spent more than $100,000 to oppose Miller and his lieutenants. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, "‘Political earthquake’: Progressives oust Democratic incumbents in statehouse primaries," 27 June 2018 Police said the bear was found after one of their lieutenants was called to a crash Tuesday night on Old U.S. 66 on the west side of the city. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Car crashes into bear on highway. The animal had to be euthanized, Missouri cops say," 13 June 2018 Colangelo and his lieutenants, after all, managed to pull off the unimaginable by signing superstar pitcher Randy Johnson to a multi-year, free-agent deal. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks Chapter 1: Great Expectations 1998-2002," 25 Mar. 2018 State media also said that Choe Ryong Hae, one of Kim’s top lieutenants, was made president of the assembly’s Presidium. Hyung-jin Kim, The Seattle Times, "North Korea bolsters diplomatic lineup amid stalled US talks," 12 Apr. 2019 After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and becoming a Rhodes Scholar (yup), Buttigieg did a stint as a McKinsey & Co. consultant, before enrolling in the U.S. Navy Reserve and rising to lieutenant. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Who Is Pete Buttigeig, the Gay Millennial Mayor the Democrats Didn't See Coming?," 1 Apr. 2019 The pair met five years ago when Ghanbari, a Navy Reserve officer, asked Barger to officiate his promotion to lieutenant. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "World War II veteran, 96, receives college degree more than 60 years after his last class, report says," 2 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lieutenant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lieutenant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lieutenant

Middle English, from Anglo-French lieu tenant, from liu + tenant holding, from tenir to hold, from Latin tenēre — more at thin

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Statistics for lieutenant

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lieutenant

The first known use of lieutenant was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for lieutenant



English Language Learners Definition of lieutenant

: an officer in the army, navy, or air force with a fairly low rank
US : an officer in a fire or police department who has a rank below a captain
: an assistant to another, more powerful person : a person who represents and works for someone else


lieu·​ten·​ant | \ lü-ˈte-nənt How to pronounce lieutenant (audio) \

Kids Definition of lieutenant

1 : an official who acts for a higher official
4 : a commissioned officer in the navy or coast guard ranking above a lieutenant junior grade

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Comments on lieutenant

What made you want to look up lieutenant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

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