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Author Topic: Why "leftenant"?
help needed
Member # 287

posted 29 April 2021 15:24     Profile for help needed       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Can someone pls help me and explain why "lieutenant" is pronounced "leftenant"?
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posted 30 April 2021 10:41     Profile for Bloggins   Email Bloggins     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Snipped from the online version of the OED (

"Lieutenant: Fr. lieutenant, f. lieu place + tenant holding (see tenant); cf. locum tenens. The origin of the <beta>type of forms (which survives in the usual British pronunciation, though the spelling represents the <alpha>type) is difficult to explain; The hypothesis of a mere misinterpretation of the graphic form (u read as v), at first sight plausible, does not accord with the facts. In view of the rare OFr. form luef for lieu (with which cf. esp. the 15th c. Sc. forms luf-, lufftenand above) it seems likely that the labial glide at the end of OFr. lieu as the first element of a compound was sometimes apprehended by Englishmen as a v or f. Possibly some of the forms may be due to association with leave sb.1 or lief a."

There's a lot more in the listing itself if you want greater depth.

Posts: 10 | From: Toronto, ON | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged
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posted 30 April 2021 12:53     Profile for ender   Email ender     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Here's the story I heard, don't know wheither it's true or not. There was some English prince with a speech impediment who kept pronoucing it leftenent, and so everybody followed him to be polite. This could be American propaganda though.
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posted 05 May 2021 14:24     Profile for RCA     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Naw, its just beacuse there is no such thing as a "right"enent.

By the way whats the difference beween a recruit and a second leftenent: A recruit is dumb and knows it



Posts: 140 | From: Army of the West | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged
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posted 12 May 2021 12:46     Profile for Mud Crawler   Email Mud Crawler     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
probably because of teh difference between general accent and pronounciation in english and french.Let me remind you that 2 thirds of the english dictionnaries originate from french, from when England was invaded by France.


Posts: 145 | From: St-Hilaire, Qc, Ca | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged

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