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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

When the little girl intervened to help her mom, the 40-year-old man punched the child, the lieutenant said. Teri Figueroa,, "Woman stabs alleged assailant, hides in brush with child until help comes," 13 July 2018 Police aren't sure what happened to the board, the police lieutenant said. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Police nab four suspects in burglary at north Houston car dealership," 11 July 2018 Leigh was one of four troopers who, with a Fairbanks police lieutenant, shot and killed a suspect in a Fairbanks pursuit in 2015. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Copper Center man fatally shot by trooper wielded ‘flammable liquid,’ officials say," 9 July 2018 The blaze, dubbed the Warnock fire, apparently was sparked by a lawn mower, the lieutenant says. City News Service, Ramona Sentinel, "Lawnmower sparks half-acre brush fire," 28 June 2018 The suspects demanded money, then fled, the lieutenant said. Stephen Ruiz,, "5 people, including 1-year-old boy, uninjured during armed Orange home invasion," 15 June 2018 Sheriff's deputies arrested three alleged burglars Sundy in the unincorporated area of 4S Ranch, a lieutenant said. City News Service, Rancho Bernardo, "Trio arrested in 4S Ranch for alleged burglaries," 28 May 2018 The caller was cooperating with the investigation, the lieutenant said. Ashley Remkus,, "Coroner identifies victim of Huntsville mobile home park homicide," 30 Apr. 2018 In the Davis case, the former lieutenant says in the draft that his wife started an Instagram page in 2016. Noelle Crombie,, "New details emerge in case of former cop investigated for wife's porn site," 12 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lieutenant

Share lieutenant

Statistics for lieutenant

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lieutenant

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lieutenant



English Language Learners Definition of lieutenant

: an officer in the army, navy, or air force with a fairly low rank

: 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!