The word lieutenant derives from French; the lieu meaning "in place" as in a position (cf. in lieu of); and tenant meaning "holding" as in "holding a position"; thus a "lieutenant" is somebody who holds a position in the absence of his or her superior (compare the Latin locum tenens). Similar words in other languages include the Arabic mulāzim (Arabic: ملازم), meaning "holding a place", and the Hebrew word segen (Hebrew: סגן), meaning "deputy" or "second to".
In the 19th century, British writers who either considered this word an imposition on the English language, or difficult for common soldiers and sailors, argued for it to be replaced by the calque "steadholder." However, their efforts failed, and the French word is still used, along with its many variations, (e.g. lieutenant colonel, lieutenant general, lieutenant commander, flight lieutenant, second lieutenant and many non-English-language examples), in both the Old and the New World.
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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:
“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.”
—Giambattista Vico (16881744)
“Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of style. But while stylederiving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tabletssuggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.”
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