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

Several of Jammeh’s lieutenants have recently admitted to murdering suspected dissidents. Julie Turkewitz,, "Dawda Jawara, founding father of Gambia, dies at 95," 7 Sep. 2019 Under the proposal, BPD will dedicate approximately 28 Birmingham officers, two sergeants, and a lieutenant to public housing every day — and in some cases, all day. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "HABD approves $3.6 million deal with Birmingham PD to protect public-housing residents," 3 Sep. 2019 The number includes sergeants and lieutenants who supervise officers and investigate allegations of misconduct lodged against them. Justin Price, azcentral, "Phoenix police routinely 'purges' officer discipline records, keeps misconduct secret," 23 Aug. 2019 This means designating unsecure apps off-limits and ensuring that lieutenants and sergeants are comfortable enforcing those policies and can do so without invading privacy and undermining morale. T.s. Allen And Robert A. Heber Jr., WSJ, "Where Posting Selfies on Facebook Can Get You Killed," 26 July 2018 One day in the summer of 1969, a young Marine lieutenant named Bob Mueller arrived in Hawaii for a rendezvous with his wife, Ann. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The Untold Story of Robert Mueller's Time in Combat," 15 May 2018 This will require action on Beacon Hill because there is a law requiring that the State Police colonel come from inside the agency and have held the rank above lieutenant before being put in charge. Larry Edelman,, "A tall order: rebuilding the staties’ reputation," 29 Aug. 2019 Levandowski is the ideal antihero for a corporate thriller: the favorite lieutenant of Alphabet boss Larry Page who committed the ultimate betrayal. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "“Silicon Valley is not the Wild West”: Anthony Levandowski faces criminal charges for stealing trade secrets," 28 Aug. 2019 What if the enemy saw the lieutenant yelling to me?, "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019

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

19 Sep 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).


to spread over or through

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