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Related to officer: warrant officer, Safety Officer


1. a person in the armed services who holds a position of responsibility, authority, and duty, esp one who holds a commission
3. (on a non-naval ship) any person including the captain and mate, who holds a position of authority and responsibility
4. a government official
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a member of the command staff in the armed forces, as well as in the militia and the police. Officers have military ranks conferred on them.

Originally, persons holding certain government posts were called officers. With the rise of standing mercenary armies and navies in the 16th century, first in France and then in other European countries, troop commanders came to be called officers. In the Russian Army, officer ranks were first introduced in the regiments formed and trained according to the Western model (“the new order”). In the feudal states the officers were recruited from among noblemen and formed a separate closed caste. With the development of capitalism, descendants of the bourgeoisie and of the middle classes were increasingly promoted to the officer ranks, and the corps of officers was democratized to some extent.

In the early 18th century in Russia, officers were divided into field-grade officers (from major to colonel) and company-grade officers (captain and lower). According to the Table of Ranks of 1722, an officer’s rank gave him the right to personal nobility, and the rank of captain and above, the right to hereditary nobility. From the mid-19th century, a captain’s rank gave him the right to personal nobility, and a colonel’s rank the right to hereditary nobility. Officer ranks were abolished during the Great October Socialist Revolution. At the time of the introduction of shoulder straps in the Red Army and Navy in 1943, commanders came to be called officers and were divided into junior and senior officers.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
So strange a reception naturally gave Milady ample matter for reflection; so seeing that the young officer did not seem at all disposed for conversation, she reclined in her corner of the carriage, and one after the other passed in review all the surmises which presented themselves to her mind.
No voice replied to hers; the carriage continued to roll on with rapidity; the officer seemed a statue.
Milady looked at the officer with one of those terrible expressions peculiar to her countenance, and which so rarely failed of their effect; anger made her eyes flash in the darkness.
"There go the inseparables," Yashvin dropped, glancing sarcastically at the two officers who were at that instant leaving the room.
Vronsky liked him both for his exceptional physical strength, which he showed for the most part by being able to drink like a fish, and do without sleep without being in the slightest degree affected by it; and for his great strength of character, which he showed in his relations with his comrades and superior officers, commanding both fear and respect, and also at cards, when he would play for tens of thousands and however much he might have drunk, always with such skill and decision that he was reckoned the best player in the English Club.
We will disobey!" But at the moment he was about to adopt this plan, he saw the officers around him reading similar orders, which the passive agent of the thoughts of that infernal Colbert had distributed to them.
Johnson, I intend retaining command of the ship, even though she crosses thirty, and I shall demand implicit obedience from every officer and man aboard until I am properly relieved from duty by a superior officer in the port of New York."
"And now you may go below, and, when again you find it necessary to address me, you will please be so good as to bear in mind the fact that I am your commanding officer, and as such entitled to a salute."
I merely stated that I should refuse to submit to arrest, and that I should demand of him and every other officer and man implicit obedience to my every command until we docked at home.
The officers answered the question with one accord--"Volunteers!"
The men echoed their officers. "Ay, ay, volunteers."
The officers and men looked at each other confusedly.