From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Captain is a title, an appellative for the commanding officer of a military unit; the supreme leader of a navy ship, merchant ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel; or the commander of a port, fire or police department, election precinct, etc. In militaries, the captain is typically at the level of an officer commanding a company or battalion of infantry, a ship, or a battery of artillery, or another distinct unit. It can also be a rank of command in an air force. The term also may be used as an informal or honorary title for persons in similar commanding roles.


The term "captain" derives from katepánō (Ancient Greek: κατεπάνω, lit.'[the one] placed at the top', or 'the topmost'), which was used as title for a senior Byzantine military rank and office.[1][page needed] The word was Latinized as capetanus/catepan, and its meaning seems to have merged with that of the late Latin "capitaneus" (which derives from the classical Latin word "caput", meaning head).[2] This hybridized term gave rise to the English language term captain and its equivalents in other languages (Capitan, Capitaine, Capitano, Capitão, Kapitan, Kapitän, Kapitein, Kapteeni, Kapten, kapitány, Kapudan Pasha, Kobtan, etc.).

Occupations or roles[edit]

Military ranks[edit]



  • Kapitän bzw. „Kapitän zur See“ (Deutsche Marine), Nato OF-5 grade
  • Hauptmann, the german equivalent of Captain in Army (Armee/Heer) and Air Force (Luftwaffe)



South Africa[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haldon, John (1999). Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, 565–1204. London: UCL Press. ISBN 1-85728-495-X.
  2. ^ "Definition of CAPTAIN". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  3. ^ Mzezewa, Tariro (25 February 2019). "Please Call Her Captain". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  4. ^ Stewart, Easton (25 February 2019). "Please Call Her Captain". Christmas Captions for Instagram. Retrieved 1 January 2022.