From Middle English sergeant, sergeaunt, serjent, serjaunt, serjawnt, sergant, from Old French sergeant, sergent, serjant, sergient, sergant (“sergeant, servant”), from Medieval Latin servientem, accusative of serviens (“a servant, vassal, soldier, apparitor”), from Latin serviēns (“serving”), present participle of serviō (“serve, be a slave to”). Doublet of servant and servient.
The fish is so called because of its stripes, supposed to resemble a sergeant's insignia of rank.
The pronunciation with /ɑɹ/ is due to a widespread development of Middle English er + consonant (see barn, start etc.). In sergeant, the spelling was standardised in one way, the pronunciation in another (compare clerk, derby in Commonwealth English, further parson vs. person, and varsity vs. university).
sergeant (plural sergeants)
- (military) UK army rank with NATO code OR-6, senior to corporal and junior to warrant officer ranks.
- The highest rank of noncommissioned officer in some non-naval military forces and police.
- 1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 13, in Well Tackled!:
- “Yes, there are two distinct sets of footprints, both wearing rubber shoes—one I think ordinary plimsolls, the other goloshes,” replied the sergeant.
- (law, historical) A lawyer of the highest rank, equivalent to the doctor of civil law.
- 1765–1769, William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, (please specify |book=I to IV), Oxford, Oxfordshire: […] Clarendon Press, →OCLC:
- All other sergeants and barristers indiscriminately (except in the Court of Common Pleas, where only sergeants are admitted) may take upon them the protection and defense of any suitors.
- (UK, historical) A title sometimes given to the servants of the sovereign.
- sergeant surgeon, i.e. a servant, or attendant, surgeon
- A fish, the cobia.
- Any of various nymphalid butterflies of the genus Athyma; distinguished from the false sergeants.
- A bailiff.
- A servant in monastic offices.
From Middle Dutch seriant, from Old French sergent, from Latin serviēns. The current spelling is influenced by English sergeant.
sergeant m (plural sergeants or sergeanten, diminutive sergeantje n)
- sergeant (non-commissioned officer in several armed forces)
This rank is in use in the Dutch army, navy and air force, in the Belgian army and air force and in the Surinamese army.
- Alternative form of serjaunt