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 His lieutenant, a trim guy in a backward Yankees cap named Sal, told the wrestlers to keep track of the roving cameraman. Dan Greene, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 The move was backed by Trump, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and his top lieutenant, Steve Scalise. Billy House, Fortune, 12 May 2021 Meyer's preliminary report findings were supported by his lieutenant, Jeff Artman. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 9 May 2021 When Warren Buffett steps down from leading Berkshire Hathaway, his lieutenant Greg Abel will take the helm, the billionaire investor confirmed Monday, ending years of speculation over his succession plans. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 The objectors included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and his top lieutenant, Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2021 And prime minister Narendra Modi—along with his lieutenant, home minister Amit Shah—have been hosting mega rallies in the state. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, 11 Apr. 2021 In the past, Jack, encouraged by the advice from his old army lieutenant, is ready to propose to Rebecca. Amanda Ostuni,, 7 Apr. 2021 Tachovsky and Knuppel lost track of each other after WWII until the sergeant tracked down his lieutenant in the early 1990s. Curt Brown, Star Tribune, 20 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for lieutenant

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lieutenant

Last Updated

1 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lieutenant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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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