From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


1. Formerly, in England, an officer nearly answering to the more modern bailiff of the hundred; also, an officer whose duty was to attend on the king, and on the lord high steward in court, to arrest traitors and other offenders. He is now called sergeant-at-arms, and two of these officers, by allowance of the sovereign, attend on the houses of Parliament (one for each house) to execute their commands, and another attends the Court Chancery. The sergeant of the town of Rome them sought. (Chaucer) The magistrates sent the serjeant, saying, Let those men go. (acts xvi. 35) This fell sergeant, death, Is strict in his arrest. (Shak)

2. (mil) In a company, battery, or troop, a noncommissioned officer next in rank above a corporal, whose duty is to instruct recruits in discipline, to form the ranks, etc.

In the united states service, besides the sergeants belonging to the companies there are, in each regiment, a sergeant major, who is the chief noncommissioned officer, and has important duties as the assistant to the adjutant; a quartermaster sergeant, who assists the quartermaster; a colour sergeant, who carries the colours; and a commissary sergeant, who assists in the care and distribution of the stores. Ordnance sergeants have charge of the ammunition at military posts.

3. A lawyer of the highest rank, answering to the doctor of the civil law; called also serjeant at law.

4. A title sometimes given to the servants of the sovereign; as, sergeant surgeon, that is, a servant, or attendant, surgeon.

5. (Science: zoology) The cobia. Drill sergeant.

See the note under def. 2, above.

(Science: zoology) The cow pilot.

Alternative forms: serjeant. Both spellings are authorised. In England serjeant is usually preferred, except for military officers. In the united states sergeant is common for civil officers also.

Origin: F. Sergent, fr. L. Serviens, -entis, p. Pr. Of servire to serve. See Serve, and cf. Servant