lieu·​ten·​ant | \ lü-ˈte-nənt , 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

The four include the commanding officer, two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, the Navy said. Courtney Kube, NBC News, "Navy to convene court-martial proceedings against sailors in 2 destroyer crashes," 16 Jan. 2018 Immelt and Bornstein, the CEO known as Big Jeff and the CFO as Little Jeff, and a small group of trusted lieutenants, kept meeting. Thomas Gryta And Ted Mann, WSJ, "GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out," 14 Dec. 2018 Sanchez said the man allegedly belonged to a local drug gang and identified the gang's leader, his right-hand man and the lieutenant's wife as the purported intellectual authors of the murder. Fox News, "Mexico: Alleged lookout nabbed in murder of Chiapas reporter," 24 Sep. 2018 An Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War, McClelland was a longtime member of the Ludowici Police force, having served as a lieutenant for 21 years before becoming the chief of police, according to his obituary. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Officers killed in the line of duty in 2018," 19 Sep. 2018 The memo was addressed to Gerald Wawrzonek, who was a lieutenant at the time. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A killer left DNA evidence behind. But Milwaukee police destroyed it.," 22 June 2018 The city and the board then settled on $150,000, according to Firefighters Pension Board President Douglas Winston, who is a North Chicago Fire Department lieutenant. Yadira Sanchez Olson, Lake County News-Sun, "No layoffs, but underfunded pensions and $1.3 million deficit loom large in North Chicago budget," 6 June 2018 The two talked about how the sergeant and lieutenant thought Piercy was doing a good job on the lake and could be promoted to corporal in the fall. Laura Bauer, kansascity, "Brandon Ellingson’s father makes emotional plea to bar ex-trooper from working as cop," 27 June 2018 Dean also was praised for his performance and was promoted to lieutenant in 2015. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Firefighters accused of making pornography at Akron, Ohio, fire station," 19 June 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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Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for lieutenant

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

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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 \

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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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