Veteran Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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Many of us have heard of the term veteran. It brings many thigns mind: respect, discipline, honor, sacrifice, skill. This word carries a lot of weight, and it is used quite commonly in the English language. 

There are a couple of meanings and definitions for the word veteran, and knowing the difference between them is incredibly important for your writing, conversation, and vocabulary. 

After reading this complete guide to the word, you’ll have a full understanding of the definition of veteran, how to use it, and how the word came to be. 

What Is the Definition of Veteran?

Veteran (‘vet ur uhn) isn’t an incredibly complex word, but it does have a couple of meanings that we need to distinguish. Here are the definitions for the word veteran:

  • A person who has served in the military or armed forces of a country
  • A person with great experience in a particular activity, skill, or trade
  • Relating to people who have served in the military
  • Experienced and skilled

The two meanings of the word veteran are somewhat similar, but they do have differences. One meaning specifically indicates that a person has served in the military and has military experience. The other is more general, signifying that a person has a large amount of experience in a particular field. 

In the military context, specifically in America, a veteran is somebody who has served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, or Coast Guard. It’s also important to know that active-duty military personnel are not considered veterans. It is only after you leave the military that you gain veteran status. 

A person is considered to be a veteran even if they did not serve in a war. Many American veterans have served in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq wars. There are still even some World War II veterans alive today. Aany member of the armed forces, regardless of whether they served in a war or not, are considered veterans and recieve the benefits that come with that. 

Common Usages of the Word

Most often, the word is used as a noun. Probably the most common definition is the one relating to the military. However, the more general definition is still common, as are the adjective forms. 

The word veteran is also commonly used to talk about services and holidays surrounding veterans. Veterans Day and Memorial Day are two important US holidays that honor veterans and people who have lost their lives during war. 

There is also the Department of Veterans Affairs, which helps to honor military service by providing service members with veterans’ benefits such as healthcare, insurance, home loans, and more. 

Where Did the Word Veteran Come From? 

To better understand the word veteran and its meaning, let’s take a look at the etymology of the word. A word’s roots and language of origin can shed a lot of light on what it means and how to use it. 

The word veteran finds its roots in the Latin, like most words in the English language. The oldest ancestor of the word veteran is the Latin vetus, which simply means “old or advanced in years.” 

There was also the Latin vetores, which means “men of old or forefathers.” Vetus is the root of the word vetores. Vetus later evolved into the word veteranus, meaning “something that has been in long use, or aged.” 

From there, the word veteranus found its way into the French language in the word vétéran, which has the same meaning as the Latin veteranus. By the 1600s, the word evolved even further in English to refer to an old experienced soldier. 

Over the next few centuries, it would evolve even further into the form we know today. Now, the word veteran refers to a former military member. In a more casual setting, it can refer to somebody who is very experienced in a particular field, activity, or skill. 

What Are Some Example Sentences for Veteran?

To help bring clarity to how the word veteran is used, here are some example sentences that contain the word veteran. 

My grandfather is a Vietnam veteran. He served in the Marines for 8 years. 

After my long service in the Armed Forces of the United States, I finally retired and am now a veteran. 

My dad is a veteran who was injured in the Iraq war, so he gets service-connected disability payments. 

There’s a lot of war veterans in my community, so our town has a really big Veteran’s Day celebration. 

He’s an absolute veteran of the keyboard, with years of experience in the studio. 

My mom is a veteran elementary school teacher, with over 25 years of classroom experience. 

Are There Any Synonyms for the Word Veteran? 

Here are some synonyms for the word veteran that you might find in a thesaurus. 

  • Vet
  • Expert
  • Pro
  • Old-timer
  • War horse
  • Expert
  • Old
  • Skilled 
  • Trained

Are There Any Antonyms for the Word Veteran? 

Here are some antonyms for the word veteran. 

  • Unskilled 
  • Amateur
  • Inexperienced
  • Green
  • Civilian

The Word Veteran 

The word veteran is important, as veterans are incredibly important people. They serve our country in more ways than we can know. 

Now you know everything you need to know about the word veteran. Use it confidently in your writing, speech, and more. If you need a refresher on the word veteran and its meaning, feel free to come back to this article. 


Veterans Affairs | US Department of Veterans Affairs

Veteran definitions | Meaning of Veteran | Power Thesaurus 

VETERAN | Cambridge English Dictionary