from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who commands, leads, or guides others, especially.
  • noun The officer in command of a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft.
  • noun A precinct commander in a police or fire department, usually ranking above a lieutenant and below a chief.
  • noun The designated leader of a team or crew in sports.
  • noun A commissioned rank in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above first lieutenant and below major.
  • noun A commissioned rank in the US Navy or Coast Guard that is above commander and below commodore.
  • noun One who holds the rank of captain.
  • noun A figure in the forefront; a leader.
  • noun One who supervises or directs the work of others, especially.
  • noun A district official for a political party.
  • noun A restaurant employee who is in charge of the waiters and usually attends to table seating.
  • noun A bell captain.
  • transitive verb To act as captain of; command or direct.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To act as leader to; be captain over; command.
  • noun In archery: The winner of a captaincy at a shooting-match.
  • noun A competitor at a shooting-match or public meeting assigned to a particular target to score for the other archers and to keep order.
  • noun One who is at the head of or has authority over others; a chief; a leader; a commander, especially in military affairs.
  • noun More specifically
  • noun In the army, the officer who commands a company, whether of infantry, cavalry, or artillery.
  • noun In the navy, an officer next in rank above a commander, and ranking in the United States service with a colonel, and in the British with a lieutenant-colonel, and after three years' service with a colonel, in the army. Officers of this grade in the British service were formerly designated post-captains.
  • noun The commander or master of a merchant vessel.
  • noun In some of the public schools of England, a title given to the senior scholar.
  • noun In base-ball, rowing, etc., the head or leader of the nine, the crew, or the body of players on one side.
  • noun In mining, the head man or superintendent of the mining operations; the person who directs and is responsible for the miners' work. As a title, often abbreviated capt.
  • noun A name commonly given, in the form long-finned captain, to the fish otherwise known as the lanthorn gurnard.
  • [The orig. (ML.) use, but in E. later than the noun use.] Of chief rank, excellence, or value; chief; principal.
  • Of commanding character; fitted to lead.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb rare To act as captain of; to lead.
  • noun A head, or chief officer.
  • noun The military officer who commands a company, troop, or battery, or who has the rank entitling him to do so though he may be employed on other service.
  • noun An officer in the United States navy, next above a commander and below a commodore, and ranking with a colonel in the army.
  • noun By courtesy, an officer actually commanding a vessel, although not having the rank of captain.
  • noun The master or commanding officer of a merchant vessel.
  • noun One in charge of a portion of a ship's company
  • noun The foreman of a body of workmen.
  • noun A person having authority over others acting in concert.
  • noun A military leader; a warrior.
  • noun The Spanish governor of Cuba and its dependent islands.
  • noun a lieutenant with the rank and duties of captain but with a lieutenant's pay, -- as in the first company of an English regiment.
  • adjective rare Chief; superior.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A chief or leader.
  • noun The person lawfully in command of a ship or other vessel.
  • noun An army officer with a rank between the most senior grade of lieutenant and major.
  • noun A naval officer with a rank between commander and commodore.
  • noun A commissioned officer in the United States Navy, Coast Guard, NOAA Corps, or PHS Corps of a grade superior to a commander and junior to a rear admiral (lower half). A captain is equal in grade or rank to an Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force colonel.
  • noun One of the athletes on a sports team who designated to make decisions, and is allowed to speak for his team with a referee or official.
  • noun The leader of a group of workers.
  • noun A maître d'.
  • noun southern US An honorific title given to a prominent person. See colonel.


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

[Middle English capitain, from Old French, from Late Latin capitāneus, chief, from Latin caput, capit-, head; see kaput- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French capitaine, from Late Latin capitāneus, from caput ("head") (English cap).


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  • I have heard, in the armory at Boston, a militia captain (_captain_, mind you!) give the command "Attention!" in three different ways, continually experimenting.

    At Plattsburg Allen French 1908

  • I tell you I’m captain of this ship, —captain and owner.

    The Strange Face Herbert George 1896

  • "_Excelsior_" was my motto; and, assisted by the generous captain, I soon after became a third mate, and afterwards a second mate, and, still later, a first mate, and, last of all, a _captain_!

    The Boy Tar Mayne Reid 1850

  • The election's outcome determines which players will earn the honor of the title captain for the Kansas University football team. stories: News 2010

  • But our captain is a strange man, and I beg of you to be prepared for anything — understand? — for anything.

    Chapter 18 2010

  • So why Alan Hansen was so confident Montenegro would be put to the sword he recommended resting the captain is a mystery.

    Roberto Mancini is showing the bottle needed to be a success Paul Wilson 2010

  • ` ` Weekes makes two big stops in a row and your captain is able to win it for you. 2008

  • "It helps who our captain is and you want to play for him and you want to be on the team," Woods says.

    Nicklaus' magic helps lift USA in Presidents Cup 2007

  • You should really pick one doctor to be what they call the captain of the ship.

    CNN Transcript May 29, 2008 2008

  • "Just to be on the team with the greatest player in the world as your captain is the greatest honor in the world," Chris DiMarco said shortly after hitting his Cup-clinching putt. - Players thank Nicklaus with Presidents Cup win 2005


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  • I can't remember ever being on a flight where the captain came on the intercom and announced, 'This is your captain speaking'. On the whole I find this quite disappointing.

    March 27, 2009