Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A noncommissioned rank in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps that is above corporal and below staff sergeant.
  • n. Any of several ranks of noncommissioned officers in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps: master gunnery sergeant; staff sergeant.
  • n. One who holds any of these ranks.
  • n. The rank of police officer next below a captain, lieutenant, or inspector.
  • n. A police officer holding this rank.
  • n. A sergeant at arms.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. UK army rank with NATO code OR-6, senior to corporal and junior to warrant officer ranks.
  • n. The highest rank of noncommissioned officer in some non-naval military forces and police.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Formerly, in England, an officer nearly answering to the more modern bailiff of the hundred; also, an officer whose duty was to attend on the king, and on the lord high steward in court, to arrest traitors and other offenders. He is now called sergeant-at-arms, and two of these officers, by allowance of the sovereign, attend on the houses of Parliament (one for each house) to execute their commands, and another attends the Court Chancery.
  • n. In a company, battery, or troop, a noncommissioned officer next in rank above a corporal, whose duty is to instruct recruits in discipline, to form the ranks, etc.
  • n. A lawyer of the highest rank, answering to the doctor of the civil law; -- called also serjeant at law.
  • n. A title sometimes given to the servants of the sovereign.
  • n. The cobia.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. [In this and the next four senses usually spelled serjeant.] A servant; a retainer; an armed attendant; in the fourteenth century, one holding lands by tenure of military service, commonly used as not including those who had received knighthood (afterward called esquires). Serjeants were called to various specific lines of duty besides service in war.
  • n.
  • n. An officer of an incorporated municipality who was charged with duties corresponding to those previously or elsewhere performed by an officer of the crown.
  • n. Hence, also
  • n. A substitute upon whom a serjeant was allowed to devolve the personal discharge of his duties; a bailiff.
  • n. One of a body or corps attendant on the sovereign, and on the lord high steward on the trial of a peer; a serjeant-at-arms.
  • n. [In this sense the modern spelling is serjeant.] In England and Ireland, a lawyer of high rank.
  • n. In Virginia, an officer in towns having powers corresponding to those of constable; in cities, an officer having powers connected with the city court corresponding to those of sheriff, and also charged with collecting city revenues.
  • n. A non-commissioned officer of the army and marines in the grade next above corporal, and usually selected from among the corporals for his intelligence and good conduct.
  • n. A police officer of superior rank.
  • n. A servant in monastic offices.
  • n. In ichthyology, the sergeant-fish.
  • n. A similar attendant on the king's person in France.
  • n. An executive officer in certain legislative bodies. In the United States Senate he serves processes, makes arrests, and aids in preserving order; the sergeant-at-arms in the House of Representatives has similar duties, and also has charge of the pay-accounts of the members.
  • n. [The two spellings sergeant and serjeant are both correct, and were formerly used indifferently. Sergeant, however, is more in accordance with modern analogies, and now generally prevails except in the legal sense, and as applied to feudal tenants, to certain officers of the royal household, and, in part, to officers of municipal and legislative bodies, where the archaic spelling serjeant is retained. See defs. 1–5, above.]

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of several noncommissioned officer ranks in the Army or Air Force or Marines ranking above a corporal
  • n. a lawman with the rank of sergeant
  • n. an English barrister of the highest rank

Etymologies

Middle English sergeaunte, a common soldier, from Old French sergent, from Medieval Latin serviēns, servient-, servant, soldier, from Late Latin, public official, from Latin, present participle of servīre, to serve, from servus, slave.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sergeant, sergeaunt, serjent, serjaunt, serjawnt, sergant, from Old French sergeant, sergent, serjant, sergient, sergant ("sergeant, servant"), from Medieval Latin servientem, accusative of serviens ("a servant, vassal, soldier, apparitor"), from Latin serviēns ("serving"), present participle of serviō ("serve, be a slave to"). More at servant. (Wiktionary)

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  • In modern use, a non-commissioned officer of the grade above that of corporal.

    A recruiting sergeant came up to me,
    Says he, "you'd look fine in khaki oh
    For the King he is in need of men
    Come read this proclamation oh
    A life in Flanders for you then
    Would be a fine vacation oh."
    --"The Recruiting Sergeant," trad., arr. the Pogues, c. 1988

    February 7, 2007