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Etymology of Lieutenant

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A listener in Montreal, Canada, asks: How do you pronounce lieutenant? The British say LEF-ten-ant, while Americans say LOO-ten-ant. In the United States, Noah Webster insisted on the latter because it hews more closely to the word’s etymological roots, the lieu meaning “place” and lieutenant literally connoting a “placeholder,” that is, an officer carrying out duties on behalf of a higher-up. This is part of a complete episode.

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