What does captain mean?

Definitions for captain
ˈkæp tən, -tɪncap·tain

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word captain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. captainnoun

    an officer holding a rank below a major but above a lieutenant

  2. captain, skippernoun

    the naval officer in command of a military ship

  3. captain, police captain, police chiefnoun

    a policeman in charge of a precinct

  4. master, captain, sea captain, skippernoun

    an officer who is licensed to command a merchant ship

  5. captain, chieftainnoun

    the leader of a group of people

    "a captain of industry"

  6. captain, senior pilotnoun

    the pilot in charge of an airship

  7. captain, headwaiter, maitre d'hotel, maitre d'verb

    a dining-room attendant who is in charge of the waiters and the seating of customers

  8. captainverb

    be the captain of a sports team


  1. captainnoun

    A chief or leader.

  2. captainnoun

    The person lawfully in command of a ship or other vessel.

    The captain is the last man to leave a sinking ship.

  3. captainnoun

    An army officer with a rank between the most senior grade of lieutenant and major.

  4. captainnoun

    A naval officer with a rank between commander and commodore.

  5. captainnoun

    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. captainnoun

    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.

  7. captainnoun

    The leader of a group of workers.

    John Henry said to the captain, "A man ain't nothing but a man."

  8. captainnoun

    A maître d'.

  9. captainnoun

    An honorific title given to a prominent person. See colonel.

  10. captainverb

    To act as captain

  11. captainverb

    To exercise command of a ship, aircraft or sports team.

  12. Etymology: From capitaine, from capitaneus, from caput (English cap).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. CAPTAINnoun

    Etymology: capitain, Fr.

    Dismay’d not this
    Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo? William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    A captain! these villains will make the name of captain as odious as the word occupy; therefore captains had need look to it. William Shakespeare, Henry IV. p. ii.

    The grim captain, in a surly tone,
    Cries out, pack up, ye rascals, and be gone. Dryden.

    The Rhodian captain, relying on his knowledge, and the lightness of his vessel, passed, in open day, through all the guards. John Arbuthnot, on Coins.

    And evermore their cruel capitain
    Sought with his rascal routs t’ inclose them round. Fairy Q.


  1. Captain

    Captain is a title, an appellative for the commanding officer of a military unit; the supreme leader of a navy ship, merchant ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel; or the commander of a port, fire or police department, election precinct, etc. In militaries, the captain is typically at the level of an officer commanding a company or battalion of infantry, a ship, or a battery of artillery, or another distinct unit. The term also may be used as an informal or honorary title for persons in similar commanding roles.


  1. Captain

    A captain is a person who is designated to lead and take charge of a group of individuals, often within a military, naval, or aviation context. They are responsible for overseeing and commanding their crew members, ensuring smooth operations, and making important decisions related to the safety and efficiency of their team. Captains are typically experienced and knowledgeable individuals who possess strong leadership skills. The specific responsibilities and authorities of a captain may vary depending on the organization or industry in which they serve.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Captainnoun

    a head, or chief officer

  2. Captainnoun

    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

  3. Captainnoun

    an officer in the United States navy, next above a commander and below a commodore, and ranking with a colonel in the army

  4. Captainnoun

    by courtesy, an officer actually commanding a vessel, although not having the rank of captain

  5. Captainnoun

    the master or commanding officer of a merchant vessel

  6. Captainnoun

    one in charge of a portion of a ship's company; as, a captain of a top, captain of a gun, etc

  7. Captainnoun

    the foreman of a body of workmen

  8. Captainnoun

    a person having authority over others acting in concert; as, the captain of a boat's crew; the captain of a football team

  9. Captainnoun

    a military leader; a warrior

  10. Captainverb

    to act as captain of; to lead

  11. Captainadjective

    chief; superior

  12. Etymology: [OE. capitain, captain, OF. capitain, F. capitaine (cf. Sp. capitan, It. capitano), LL. capitaneus, capitanus, fr. L. caput the head. See under Chief, and cf. Chieftain.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Captain

    kap′tān, or kap′tin, n. a head or chief officer: the commander of a troop of horse, a company of infantry, or a ship: the overseer of a mine: the leader of a team or club: the head-boy of a school.—v.t. to lead.—ns. Cap′taincy, the rank or commission of a captain; Cap′tain-gen′eral, chief commander of an army; Cap′tainship, Cap′tainry (obs.), rank or condition of a captain: skill in commanding. [O. Fr. capitaine—Low L. capitaneus, chief—L. caput, head.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. captain

    This title is said to be derived from the eastern military magistrate katapan, meaning "over everything;" but the term capitano was in use among the Italians nearly 200 years before Basilius II. appointed his katapan of Apulia and Calabria, A.D. 984. Hence, the corruption of the Apulian province into capitanata. Among the Anglo-Saxons the captain was schipp-hláford, or ship's lord. The captain, strictly speaking, is the officer commanding a line-of-battle ship, or a frigate carrying twenty or more cannon. A captain in the royal navy is answerable for any bad conduct in the military government, navigation, and equipment of his ship; also for any neglect of duty in his inferior officers, whose several charges he is appointed to regulate. It is also a title, though incorrectly, given to the masters of all vessels whatever, they having no commissions. It is also applied in the navy itself to the chief sailor of particular gangs of men; in rank, captain of the forecastle, admiral's coxswain, captain's coxswain, captain of the hold, captain of main-top, captain of fore-top, &c.

  2. captain

    A name given to the crooner, crowner, or gray gurnard (Trigla gurnardus).

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. captain

    In a limited and technical sense, is the title of an officer who commands a troop of cavalry, a company of infantry, or a battery of artillery. He is the next in rank below a major, and in the U. S. army is responsible for the camp and garrison equipage, the arms, ammunition, and clothing of his company.

Suggested Resources

  1. captain

    Song lyrics by captain -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by captain on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Captain is ranked #21811 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Captain surname appeared 1,192 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Captain.

    53.2% or 635 total occurrences were White.
    28.4% or 339 total occurrences were Black.
    9.6% or 115 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    5% or 60 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    2% or 24 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.5% or 19 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'captain' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1900

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'captain' in Written Corpus Frequency: #3781

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'captain' in Nouns Frequency: #827

How to pronounce captain?

How to say captain in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of captain in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of captain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of captain in a Sentence

  1. Airplane:

    Captain Oveur Joey, do you like movies about gladiators

  2. Daniel Rose:

    First, the captain, individually, is obviously not a realistic source of recovery for the families, second, the only reason to assert allegations against the captain is to impute his acts or omissions to TOTE, but it still has to be done in a way to defeat the limitation. Simply suing the Captain does not accomplish that.

  3. Rory McIlroy:

    It came as a big shock when they announced yesterday Davis was going to be the next U.S. captain, it will be great to see Davis and (European captain) Darren (Clarke) go head-to-head at Hazeltine and they will be formidable opponents.

  4. Godfather, The:

    Sonny Hey, whataya gonna do, nice college boy, eh Didn't want to get mixed up in the Family business, huh Now you wanna gun down a police captain. Why Because he slapped ya in the face a little bit Hah What do you think this is the Army, where you shoot 'em a mile away You've gotta get up close like this and bada-bing. you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.

  5. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly:

    Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Cozier is naive nor stupid. I think, and always believed Captain Brett Crozier to be the opposite. We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Brett Crozier is smart and passionate.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for captain

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"captain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 11 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/captain>.

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    cause to be embarrassed; cause to feel self-conscious
    • A. rumpus
    • B. abash
    • C. render
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