Army MajorO-4 Field Officer, U.S. Army
History of the Army Major Rank
The history of the rank of Major derives from the Latin word “magnus” meaning “great.” This word functioned as an adjective, so it was often attached to other words to indicate being greater than something else. As Latin died out and other languages rose during mediaeval times, French adopted the word to mean greater than.
During the centuries in which the official language of England was French, the English language took up the word major with the same meaning, making the significant change though of making it also a noun, allowing it stand alone as a word. Over time, it found a new meaning in French, but in English it remained the same.
With the establishment of the standing army of the British Empire, the word major was adopted as a rank, indicating an officer who stood greater than a captain or a lieutenant (“Left-tenant”) in duties and responsibilities, yet still underneath a colonel.
It found other uses in military rank, lending itself to the rank and title of major general to indicate a general greater than a brigadier.
The United States Army adopted the title and rank of Major with the formation of its Army upon the foundation of the country.
This rank of Major has remained a part of the United States Army from its inception until modernity.
Want to learn more? Read about the Army's Major rank on Military-Ranks.org.
History of the Army
The Army is the oldest and most senior among the branches. The Army's heritage is traced back to the Revolutionary War, when each State of the Union had its own Army, lended to the command of General George Washington. Almost 250 years have passed, but the organizational structure and naming is largely the same. The Army is still divided into Divisions, Brigades, Regiments, Battalions, Companies, and Platoons.