(redirected from officers)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms.


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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Accepting the hand of the officer, she began the descent of the ladder, at the foot of which the boat waited.
The officer leaped to the pier, and offered his hand to Milady.
The officer saw that the baggage was fastened carefully behind the carriage; and this operation ended, he took his place beside Milady, and shut the door.
"The plan proposed is, that a detachment of the able-bodied officers and men among us should set forth this very day, and make another effort to reach the nearest inhabited settlements, from which help and provisions may be dispatched to those who remain here.
The officers answered the question with one accord--"Volunteers!"
"So you're not afraid of getting fat?" said the latter, turning a chair round for the young officer.
The plump officer took up the list of wines and turned to the young officer.
"Here they are," said the officer, exhibiting the royal signature.
"Here are your instructions," replied the officer, placing the folded paper in his hands; and turning round towards D'Artagnan, "Come, monsieur," said he, in an agitated voice (such despair did he behold in that man of iron), "do me the favor to depart at once."
In the narrative I purpose telling my story in a less formal, and I hope, a more entertaining, style; though, being only a naval officer and without claim to the slightest literary ability, I shall most certainly fall far short of the possibilities which are inherent in my subject.
You all are familiar with the naval tradition that a good officer could sense proximity to either line, and for my part, I am firmly convinced of the truth of this as I am that the compass finds the north without recourse to tedious processes of reasoning.
Rostov, growing red and pale alternately, looked first at one officer and then at the other.