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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A chief or leader.
  • n. The person lawfully in command of a ship or other vessel.
  • n. An army officer with a rank between the most senior grade of lieutenant and major.
  • n. A naval officer with a rank between commander and commodore.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The leader of a group of workers.
  • n. A maître d'.
  • n. An honorific title given to a prominent person. See colonel.
  • v. To act as captain
  • v. To exercise command of a ship, aircraft or sports team.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Chief; superior.
  • n. A head, or chief officer.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An officer in the United States navy, next above a commander and below a commodore, and ranking with a colonel in the army.
  • n. By courtesy, an officer actually commanding a vessel, although not having the rank of captain.
  • n. The master or commanding officer of a merchant vessel.
  • n. One in charge of a portion of a ship's company
  • n. The foreman of a body of workmen.
  • n. A person having authority over others acting in concert.
  • n. A military leader; a warrior.
  • transitive v. To act as captain of; to lead.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is at the head of or has authority over others; a chief; a leader; a commander, especially in military affairs.
  • n. More specifically
  • n. In the army, the officer who commands a company, whether of infantry, cavalry, or artillery.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The commander or master of a merchant vessel.
  • n. In some of the public schools of England, a title given to the senior scholar.
  • n. In base-ball, rowing, etc., the head or leader of the nine, the crew, or the body of players on one side.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • To act as leader to; be captain over; command.
  • n. In archery: The winner of a captaincy at a shooting-match.
  • n. A competitor at a shooting-match or public meeting assigned to a particular target to score for the other archers and to keep order.

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

  • n. an officer who is licensed to command a merchant ship
  • n. the pilot in charge of an airship
  • n. the naval officer in command of a military ship
  • n. the leader of a group of people
  • n. a policeman in charge of a precinct
  • v. be the captain of a sports team
  • n. an officer holding a rank below a major but above a lieutenant
  • n. a dining-room attendant who is in charge of the waiters and the seating of customers


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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


  • 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

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

    The Strange Face

  • "_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

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

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

    Chapter 18

  • 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

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

  • "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

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

    CNN Transcript May 29, 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


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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