The Abbreviation for Lieutenant: What is it and how is it used?

Are you looking for the abbreviation for lieutenant? Look no further. In this article, we’ll define the word lieutenant, explore its origin, history, and uses. Plus, we’ll examine the abbreviation and identify instances where it’s used instead of the whole word. Let’s get started.



There is one common abbreviation for the word lieutenant:


However, depending on the branch of the security forces, there may be associated words and abbreviations to consider. 

The U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marines have second lieutenants (2nd Lt.) and first lieutenants (1st Lt.). 

In the US Navy, roles include lieutenant junior grade (LT JG), lieutenant (LT), and lieutenant commander (LCDR). 

When the abbreviation is used as a title, it should always be capitalized. 

For example:

2D LT Rodgers served in the U.S. Air Force.

Lt. John Beckman secures the sea borders with the Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Rebecca Fremont uses the abbreviation LTJG.

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Additional Abbreviations for the U.S. Army

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation
E-2Private 2PV2
E-3Private First ClassPFC
E-6Staff SergeantSSG
E-7Sergeant First ClassSFC
E-8Master SergeantMSG
E-8First Sergeant1SG
E-9Sergeant MajorSGM
E-9Command Sergeant MajorCSM
E-9 SpecialSergeant Major of the ArmySMA
W-1Warrant OfficerWO1
W-2Chief Warrant Officer 2CW2
W-3Chief Warrant Officer 3CW3
W-4Chief Warrant Officer 4CW4
W-5Chief Warrant Officer 5CW5
O-1Second Lieutenant2LT
O-2First Lieutenant1LT
O-5Lieutenant ColonelLTC
O-7Brigadier GeneralBG
O-8Major GeneralMG
O-9Lieutenant GeneralLTG
SpecialGeneral of the ArmyGA

Additional Abbreviations for the U.S. Air Force

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation
E-1Airman BasicAB
E-3Airman First ClassA1C
E-4Senior Airman or SergeantSrA
E-5Staff SergeantSSgt
E-6Technical SergeantTSgt
E-7Master SergeantMSgt
E-8Senior Master SergeantSMSgt
E-8Senior Master SergeantSMSgt
E-9Chief Master SergeantCMSgt
E-9Command Chief Master SergeantCCM
E-9 SpecialChief Master Sergeant of the Air ForceCMSAF
O-1Second Lieutenant2d Lt
O-2First Lieutenant1st Lt
O-5Lieutenant ColonelLt Col
O-7Brigadier GeneralBrig Gen
O-8Major GeneralMaj Gen
O-9Lieutenant GeneralLt Gen
O-10General Air Force Chief of StaffGen
SpecialGeneral of the Air ForceGOAF

Additional Abbreviations for the U.S. Navy / Coast Guard

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation
E-1Seaman RecruitSR
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA
E-4Petty Officer 3rd ClassPO3
E-5Petty Officer 2nd ClassPO2
E-6Petty Officer 1st ClassPO1
E-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO
E-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO
E-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO
E-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPOC
E-9Fleet Master Chief Petty OfficerFLTCM
E-9Force Master Chief Petty OfficerFORCM
E-9 SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Coast GuardMPCOCG
E-9 SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the NavyMCPON
W-1Warrant OfficerWO1
W-2Chief Warrant Officer 2CWO2
W-3Chief Warrant Officer 3CWO3
W-4Chief Warrant Officer 4CWO4
W-5Chief Warrant Officer 5CWO5
O-2Lieutenant, Junior GradeLTJG
O-4Lieutenant CommanderLCDR
O-7Rear Admiral (lower half)RDML
O-8Rear Admiral (upper half)RADM
O-9Vice AdmiralVADM
O-10Admiral Chief of Naval Operations /Commandant of the Coast GuardADM
O-10 SpecialFleet AdmiralFADM

Additional Abbreviations for the U.S. Marine Corps

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation
E-2Private First ClassPFC
E-3Lance CorporalLCpl
E-6Staff SergeantSSgt
E-7Gunnery SergeantGySgt
E-8Master SergeantMSgt
E-8First Sergeant1stSgt
E-9Master Gunnery SergeantMGySgt
E-9Sergeant MajorSgtMaj
E-9 SpecialSergeant Major of the Marine CorpsSgtMajMarCor
W-1Warrant Officer 1WO1
W-2Chief Warrant Officer 2CW2
W-3Chief Warrant Officer 3CW3
W-4Chief Warrant Officer 4CW4
W-5Chief Warrant Officer 5CW5
O-1Second Lieutenant2ndLt
O-2First Lieutenant1stLt
O-5Lieutenant ColonelLtCol
O-7Brigadier GeneralBGen
O-8Major GeneralMajGen
O-9Lieutenant GeneralLtGen

What Is the Definition of the Word?

The word lieutenant refers to a deputy or substitute who is acting for a superior. He or she is second in command. In the United States, a lieutenant is a commissioned officer whose rank or pay grade is between lieutenant junior grade and lieutenant commander. He or she holds either a military or civil position subordinate to a superior. When the senior officer is not able to fulfill a function, the lieutenant does so on his or her behalf.  

According to Wikipedia, a lieutenant is a military, police, or fire department rank. A lieutenant takes the place of a superior when he or she is away or not available. In most military establishments, a lieutenant is an entry-level commissioned officer’s rank. It may be divided into two levels, first and second. A second lieutenant can be abbreviated as 2LT, 2ndLt, 2d Lt, or O1. 

The lieutenant or first lieutenant is a higher rank than a second lieutenant. In the U.S., a 2nd Lt. leads a platoon that is comprised of two or more squads of about 16 to 44 soldiers. By contrast, a first lieutenant serves as an executive officer for a Company consisting of 110 to 140 personnel. Abbreviations include 1LT, 1stLt, 1st Lt, and O2.

In the British Army, a 2nd Lt holds such rank for two years. A 1st Lt can hold the position for a period of up to 3 years. In the United States Navy, a lieutenant is the same level as the Army captain, while a second lieutenant in the Navy is equivalent to a first lieutenant in the army. In Brazil, a sub-lieutenant is a noncommissioned officer.

Cambridge Dictionary defines a lieutenant as “an officer of middle rank in the armed forces.”  

Besides being a grading rank in the military, the word lieutenant appears in combination with other military and civilian titles to show a second in command or one of lower rank. In the U.S., a lieutenant often describes an officer in a fire or police department ranked below the captain. They may act as the captain whenever he or she is unavailable. 

For example, a lieutenant colonel (lt col) rank is below a colonel and above the rank of major. A lieutenant general ranks below a general and above a major general.

A lieutenant general is a three-star military rank used in many countries. The word lieutenant can be traced to the middle ages, where the title was held by the second in command on the battlefield. A lieutenant general was a subordinate to a captain. 

In the U.S. and British Navies, a lieutenant commander ranks between a lieutenant and commander. Non-commissioned officers in the U.S. include master sergeants, master chief petty officers, sergeant majors, chief warrant officers, brigadier generals, staff sergeants, corporals, and airmen. 

The History and Origin of the Word

Lieutenant is related to the Latin term locum tenens, meaning a person who stands in temporarily for someone else. It is derived from French lieu, or place, and tenant meaning holding. A lieutenant holds a position for a superior, taking his or her place during an absence.   

Synonyms for Lieutenant

  • replacement
  • understudy 
  • deputy 
  • substitute 
  • reserve
  • standby 
  • double  

Examples of the Word and Abbreviation in Context

Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark is Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Virginia. General Clark is responsible to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for focus on Nuclear Deterrence Operations. ”
—U.S. Air Force

Federal authorities have arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who they said was stockpiling weapons and ‘espoused extremist’ and racist views for years as he sought to launch a major attack.
—ABC News

“Second Lieutenant Jack Roosevelt Robinson was beginning to make history, well before 1947, when he became the first person of his race to play in baseball’s major leagues.”
—Prologue Magazine

“A soldier serving at Fort Benning was promoted to lieutenant colonel, the 23rd rank in the United States Army.”
—WALB News

“Vasconcellos also won the 2017 BPPA Pictures of the Year award for spot news photography, that time for a Jan. 26, 2017 photo of Brockton firefighter Lt. George Eonas giving a thumbs-up in the direction of the camera, as he was walking into a burning home.”
—The Enterprise