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"In contemporary American English, the word is usually pronounced [ˈ/lu'tɛnənt/](Audio (help·info)).[1][2]. In 1791, English lexicographer John Walker lamented that the "regular sound" – /lju'tɛnənt/ – was not in general employ, giving the pronunciation current at the time as /lɛv'tɛnənt/ or /lɪv'tɛnənt/.[1] This is still the dominant pronunciation in English-speaking countries outside North America."

This is not true. In Canada it is pronounced as in the UK.

  The text selection doesn't clearly say anything about Canada, so you may add anything you'd like regarding.  It also refers only to non-North American countries and only claims to apply most of the time. (talk) 21:06, 29 December 2012 (UTC) (Shiggity Schwa).

The section on the Canadian pronunciation is good, but a bit confusing, especially the quote from 1954. I'm pretty sure Canadian armed forces now universally uses the lef-tenent pronunciation even in the navy. (see the wikipedia entry on Canadian lieutenant ( Here is the CBC radio pronunciation guide: "For years, CBC Radio’s language guide has recommended “lef-TEN-ant” unless we’re referring to Americans. In that case, the rank would be “loo-TEN-ant.” The guide also notes an old naval pronunciation: let-TEN-ant. CBC Radio's Broadcast Language Advisor, Russ Germain, said he included this "for the sake of preserving Canadian linguistic heritage." It's worth pointing out that some historians consider the Royal Navy's version, which amounts to l'tenant, the anglicized version closest to the original French." CaperBill (talk) 23:55, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Minimum Length of Time?[edit]

I can't seem to find information on whether there is a minimum length of time to achieve O-3 in the US Navy.

Template question: re officer ranks[edit]

I was wondering what the usefulness of Template:UK officer ranks was on this page. Lieutenant is a rank that exists in a number of armed forces, and I think that if they all had a template like that on this page, the page would quickly be overrun. --timc | Talk 23:28, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

There is also a Template:US officer ranks, which has not, for some reason, been added to this article, but has to the others. Personally, I'd be in favour of removing both, but if US stays then so does UK in the interests of avoiding US-centrism! -- Necrothesp 01:19, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

What about lieutenants in police and fire services?

Two things: 3rd Lt and "Mister"[edit]

I would have expected to see, but didn't: isn't a 3rd liut. an ensign, or the equivalent thereof? Secondly, I was hoping for some discussion of the usage of address "Mister", in the American Navy...
--Baylink 20:03, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

I have yet to actually see a source indicating that the rank of 3rd LT ever existed in the US military outside of as discussed in 19th Century and earlier warships in which LT's were ranked by relative seniority within the ship only. I also have not personally read any actual military instruction or customs guide indicating that it is explicitly acceptable to address certain officers as "Mister X" but unacceptable to address more senior officers as such, although I will grant you that as a general rule of thumb it is true that JO’s are often addressed as such while Senior Officers are not. I would request anyone making either claim to ensure they provide a cite along with it. (Sonlee (talk) 11:06, 9 December 2008 (UTC))

explanation of lieutenant[edit]

liked this and the linked articles about ranks. Very informative.

regarding the etymology of the word lieutenant, I would like to make the following comment:

the translation of decomposed words is correct, i.e. "lieu" fr place, and "tenant" fr gerondif of "tenir" to hold.

the explained meaning "holding a position" however is incorrect.

The french say "in lieu ..." when discribing "in stead". In lieutenant, this is what it means.

Explanation: Strictly speaking, the LT commands by grace of his superior - the captain, and he is the most junior commissioned officer. He does not hold a position, but carries out and supervises orders.

the rank capitain, the most senior of junior officers(in the french army), is a company commander: (etym.: capitain from: capo lat. hat/head tenere lat. holding ~ the one holding/wearing the cap. the head of the company). He is the one who wore a/the hat - to make him recognizable in battle. Should he fall, the next officer in line, would take the captains hat, and wear/holding it in his stead. QED

The Brit. army calls them Leftenant. The guy has been left in his master's stead, holding a position.

With refrence to the example of the lord lieutenant, he rules in the monarchs stead.

Re pronunciation[edit]

Can somebody add an audio file of the spelling? 14:59, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

This is absolutely false (Honi soit qui mal y pense)[edit]

<It has also been speculated that it may have come from a fanciful etymology which associated it with the verb 'to leave', as the lieutenant only took up his duties once his superior officer had 'left'>. FALSE

  • 'Lieutenant' is a French word (lieu tenant) used by both the British and later by the Americans. "tenant lieu de": the 1st lieutenants were the king's agents and his representatives, they were send "à la place de" (lit. "in the place", for "instead of") his majesty.

<Lieutenant is a French word coming from the contraction of the lieu tenant expression which is the old litterate form for tenant lieu de. The expression means in the place for. Once, the lieutenants were not militarymen but officials, they were the king's representatives in french provinces>. HISTORICAL FACTS

EnthusiastFRANCE 17:11, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

You haven't shown the statement itself to be false. No one is claiming that the etymology involving 'leave' is correct. It blatantly isn't. What's being claimed is that at some point in the history of the word, people assumed wrongly that that's where the word came from, and started pronouncing it with an f because of that. Similar things happen all the time. There was originally no l in belfrey, but people inserted one because of the association with bells. People often talk about Welsh rarebit, but in origin it's Welsh rabbit. And so on. Whether or not people ever actually did make such an assumption in the case of lieutenant is another matter. Garik 16.43, 7 may 2006 (BST)
To put the same idea another way, folk etymology is often interesting and noteworthy, even when it's incorrect. — Lumbercutter 01:31, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Shift from u to v is a natural phenomenon that is more than just "mistaken reading"[edit]

There is an underlying reason why u and v were once written alike (phonemically they were the vowel and semivowel personalities of the one same creature in classical Latin). The alphabetic equivalence congealed and remained fossilized long after there was phonetic and phonemic use for an alphabetic differentiation. Linguistically there is in fact a fuzzy sliding-scale connection that links /u/ to /v/ and back again with an area in the middle that is bilabial (/w/), from which shifts to labiodentals can take it off in diverging directions. This interconnected chain is analogous to the one that connects "hard g" to "soft g" through /χ/, /ʃ/, et al. Interestingly, both of these chains can be exemplified in one example word: They are what allowed the original Greek version of the name "Eugene" (meaning "well bred", that is, eu- + gen-) to diverge toward the /ju/ and the /in/ of English Eugene but also toward the /jev/ and the /gen/ of Slavic Yevgeny et al.

Of course, the linguistic depths are a digression from the article's topic, so I won't try to discuss the above in the article. A link to relevant articles on linguistic topics would be appropriate, to be followed by the occasional reader who cares to digress into it. If I think of a succinct way to replace the "mistaken reading" phrase with an improved phrase with links that will do justice to the linguistics, I'll do that. — Lumbercutter 01:29, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Army but not Naval[edit]

The article has an entire section devoted to Army, Air Force, and Marine versions of the rank. However, no equivilent article is mentioned for Navel officers.--Will 05:45, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikiproject law enforcement[edit]

I am proposing removing the Wikiproject Law enforcement tag from this article. This article doesnt seem to have anything to do with Law enforcement other than the fact that alot of Police agencies have a rank of Lieutenant. It seems this article would fit better in a military wikiproject or something like that. EMT1871 03:28, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Tag removed, articles about ranks that cross over from their predominant military usage into a more minor police usage aren't in the project. SGGH 12:43, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

3rd lt 21st century[edit]

In american army nominclature, the 3rd lt is still used as a designation, particularly in the case of cadets in appointed roles. cite: the used of a cadet in the army national guard program as a member of SMP(simultaneous membership program) the cdet is designated in some units a third lt.

As for the mention of fictional usaged, this is incorrect. Heinlien 3rd LT are told specifically they do have authority, and are given the rank of 3rd LT specifically to place them in the chain of command. The idea is that there are no "extras" or "deadheads" in combat. If the leader is a causualty, the charachters are told they will take charge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

I disagree most strenuously. I have been in the U.S. Army for 21 years now (E-9, retiring in 8 months, WHOOAHH) and I have never once, in all that time, heard "3rd Lt." When the ROTC kids and the Pointers do their summer training with the grown-ups they are called "cadets", reflecting the fact that they are not commissioned until graduation from their university or service academy. If there are units that call cadets 3rd Lts., they are wrong, and if they were in earshot of an upper-level NCO they would be in the front-leaning-rest position for days. Cheers. L0b0t (talk) 14:43, 30 May 2008 (UTC)


Agreed! I'm currently an SMP cadet, which has no rank associated with it (paygrade E5/time in service), and upon commisioning, will be an O1, 2LT.

^^^ Using "Starship Troopers" as an authoritative source is flat out wrong. yes, Heinlien was an officer IN REAL LIFE, but a science fiction novel is just that. There is no 3rd Lt rank in the US. It could be argued a 4th year cadet from one of the service academies could be a 3rd Lt., but in fact, until commissioning, a cadet of ANY in-school standing has NO rank in the US armed forces.

I had a cadet walk by me once when I was in the USAF. I nodded to him and said good morning, but when he turned and demanded I salute him, I told him " HAVE no rank. Right now I outrank YOU." (I was an E-4 at the time)

The Heinlien scene was different. Rico and the others were still cadets, but because they were being sent out on a real mission, they were given 3rd Lt so they'd have SOME authority if things went south....but that's not real life. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:48, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Reworking of this article - 11 October 08[edit]

I have been working over the last week on a re-working of this article in one of my workboxes. Inevitably this has meant that the text has been inserted wholesale, so here is a list of the more significant changes:

  • Introduction of a proper structure
  • Re-arrangement of the text within the new structure for ease of reading
  • Culling of some non-encyclopedic and unverified information - in particular the list of foreign equivalents for "Third Lieutenant", not one of which was referenced and which added nothing useful to the encyclopedia.
  • Introduction of text on the naval rank, which was conspicuous by its absence, as well as some text on Air Force, Marine and Police Service Lieutenants.
  • Adding images of rank badges, which serve to demonstrate quite how little standardisation there is even within NATO of insignia.

I hope this meets with approval, but I must stress that there is still work to do here. I'm thinking of:

  • References for much of the text on Army ranks.
  • Expansion of the historical sections on the origins of the rank.
  • Further information on use of the the rank within other organisations.

Long live Wikipedia! Shem (talk) 19:27, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Example rank is misleading/and or wrong! Danish ranks[edit]

When reading the page "Lieutenant" one is presented with the danish example of a first lieutenant: "Premierløjtnant" and that is very true. However when one decides to browse further down, it is stated that the danish name for a Second Lieutenant is "Flyverløjtnant" and its indicated by a pip with an arrow - this is actually just a name for a danish military employee who has taken the education to become a pilot or navigator and does not count as an officer-rank.

The true rank for second lieutenant is simply "Løjtnant" and is indicated by a single pip. As a reference i present here the press release from the military as evidence.

Stk. 6. Graderne flyverløjtnant af 1. grad og flyverløjtnant anvendes til personel, der har gennemgået en uddannelse til pilot eller navigatør. De pågældende bibeholder en af disse grader, indtil officersgrunduddannelsen måtte være gennemgået eller indtil eventuel hjemsendelse.

To sum it up "Flyverløjtnant" is just like a doctor recieves a rank based on how much experience they have, and is not in reality a rank.

I'm new to Wikipedia editing and talks, but my idea would be to remove flyverløjtnant and include løjtnant instead. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jokah (talkcontribs) 16:50, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Jokah, you are absolutely right - I made a simple error in copying in the image and title. Thanks for correcting it. Shem (talk) 14:25, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Commonwealth English[edit]

It seems to me that the phrase "British and Commonwealth English" is clearly referring to the English language as spoken in a variety of different forms throughout the different nations. This impression is reinforced by the phrase "in English-speaking countries outside the USA" used within the section. I see no reason to change the wording to a form I see as rather less elegant, referring as it does to nations rather than dialectical groupings. I would perhaps be just as happy with "British and Commonwealth Pronunciations" and "American Pronuciation", however. Shem (talk) 18:46, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I was so taken with the "British and Commonwealth Pronunciations" and "American Pronuciation" idea that I've adopted it. Shem (talk) 18:55, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Lack of background info[edit]

Esp. on showing the insignia etc, there probably is a Western European military history text which will explain the move of some armies towards Prussian style uniforms, insignia etc in the 19th century. Having two stars/pips/marks/... to indicate a lieutenant probably did not originate from UK. (Actually a lot of WP articles seem to neglect the fact that a lot of things in the British Army are in fact not uniquely British but are either following general European trends or are deliberately copied from armies in continental Europe.) The move from a general word "lt" to the now fossilized meaning of second-to-lowest officer is not well explained as it is for the General article, say. (talk) 03:33, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

US Navy Collar Device[edit]

The picture provided here of a US Navy LT's collar device is incorrect, in the picture provided where it appears above an example shoulder board. While it does appear as two silver bars, in the Navy these bars are joined across the top and bottom, and not towards the center as in the Army and Air Force. I believe this may go for a Capt. in the Marine Corps. I do not know how to change the picture, but it would be good if someone could - the LT used this in a brief of ranks the other day, making note of the discrepancy, and it would good if someone made such a resource available. Blackhawk003 (talk) 04:45, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Audio please[edit]

Who makes a Audio-file with the word "Lieutenant" spoken? --Itu (talk) 08:26, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

OK, exists: [1]. Maybe put it in the text. --Itu (talk) 08:29, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
It is (or rather a very similar file) in the text (under "pronunciation") and has been for a long, long time. Shem (talk) 20:29, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Ok, sorry. I only looked at the beginning, were i used to find such thing. :/ --Itu (talk) 08:49, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

File:UK-Army-OF1A-shoulder.svg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Unofficial and uncontemporary use[edit]

I've heard the term lieutenant to be used for right hand men of kings or other warrior chieftains, without there being a clear establishment of military hierarchy. Does this fit into this article? KarstenO (talk) 20:55, 27 February 2015 (UTC)


James Cook was promoted to First Lieutenant (from Ship's Master) and given command of the Endeavour. Clearly, he was not second-in-command. His "First Officer" was Second Lieutenant Zachary Hicks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:25, 21 March 2015 (UTC)