see also: Captain
  • (British) IPA: /ˈkæp.tɪn/, /-tən/
  • (America, Australia) IPA: /ˈkæp.tən/
  • qual naval, informal IPA: /ˈkæp.ən/, [ˈkæpn̩], [ˈkæpm̩]

captain (plural captains)

  1. A chief or leader.
    • 1526, The Bible, tr. William Tyndale, Gospel of Matthew 2:
      For out of the shal come a captaine, whych shall govern my people israhel.
    • 1929, Rudyard Kipling, "The English Way ↗":
      Stand up-stand up, Northumberland! / I bid you answer true, / If England's King has under his hand / A Captain as good as you?
  2. The person lawfully in command of a ship or other vessel.
    The captain is the last man to leave a sinking ship.
  3. An army officer with a rank between the most senior grade of lieutenant and major.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314 ↗, page 0124 ↗:
      "A fine man, that Dunwody, yonder," commented the young captain, as they parted, and as he turned to his prisoner. "We'll see him on in Washington some day. He is strengthening his forces now against Mr. Benton out there. […]."
  4. A naval officer with a rank between commander and commodore.
  5. 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.
  6. One of the athletes on a sports team who is designated to make decisions, and is allowed to speak for his team with a referee or official.
    • 2000, Gregory Allen Howard, Remember the Titans
      Captain's supposed to be the leader, right?
  7. The leader of a group of workers.
    John Henry said to the captain, "A man ain't nothing but a man."
  8. The head boy of a school.
  9. A maître d', a headwaiter.
    • 1977, Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, lyricists, "Hotel California",
      So I called up the Captain, "Please bring me my wine." / He said: "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969."
  10. (southern US) An honorific title given to a prominent person. See colonel.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Verb

captain (captains, present participle captaining; past and past participle captained)

  1. (intransitive) To act as captain
  2. (transitive) To exercise command of a ship, aircraft or sports team.
  • Spanish: capitanear
  • French: agir en capitaine, piloter (aircraft, ship)
  • Portuguese: pilotar (aircraft, ship)
  • Spanish: capitanear, pilotar (aircraft)


captain (uncountable)

  1. An army officer title in most countries
  2. The title for someone who holds the captain job on a ship or other vessel.
    These islands were discovered by Captain Cook.

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