a. A commissioned rank in the US Navy or Coast Guard that is above lieutenant junior grade and below lieutenant commander.
b. A first lieutenant.
c. A second lieutenant.
d. One who holds any of these ranks or a similar rank in another military organization.
2. (lĕf-tĕnənt) A commissioned officer in the British and Canadian navies ranking just below a lieutenant commander.
3. An officer in a police or fire department ranking below a captain.
4. One who acts in place of or represents a superior; an assistant or deputy: the organized crime figure and his lieutenants.
[Middle English, deputy, from Old French : lieu, place; see LIEU + tenant, present participle of tenir, to hold (from Latin tenēre; see ten- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.