Sergeant vs. Sargent — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 21, 2023
"Sergeant" is a military or police rank, while "Sargent" is typically a surname.
Difference Between Sergeant and Sargent
"Sergeant" is a term widely recognized in the context of military and police hierarchies. It denotes a rank and is associated with roles of responsibility and authority. On the other hand, "Sargent" is most often recognized as a surname, like the famous American artist John Singer Sargent.
In usage, "sergeant" is likely to be encountered when discussing ranks or titles within disciplined services. For instance, a "sergeant" might be in charge of a squad in the army or oversee a unit of patrol officers in a police department. "Sargent", conversely, isn't typically associated with titles or ranks; it would appear in contexts where individual names are mentioned.
The pronunciation of "sergeant" and "sargent" can be similar, leading to potential confusion. However, their etymologies differ. "Sergeant" derives from the Old French "sergent", meaning "a servant", while the origins of "Sargent" as a surname are less clear, possibly coming from a medieval occupation.
Grammar and spelling-wise, it's crucial to use "sergeant" when referring to the rank in the military or police force. In contrast, "Sargent" should be reserved for specific contexts, primarily when referring to individuals bearing that surname.
Military or police rank
In reference to authority
In naming individuals
From Old French "sergent"
Part of Speech
A non-commissioned officer in the military or police force.
The sergeant ordered the troops to assemble.
United States painter (born in Italy) known for his society portraits (1856-1925)
An officer in certain legal and official ceremonial orders.
The sergeant-at-arms maintains order in legislative assemblies.
A surname of English or Norman origin.
John Singer Sargent painted the portrait.
An official with specific duties and powers.
The sergeant of the city market monitored vendor activities.
Any of several ranks of noncommissioned officers in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps
Master gunnery sergeant.
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.
The magistrates sent the serjeant, saying, Let those men go.
This fell sergeant, Death,Is strict in his arrest.
Sergeant ( SARJ-ənt; abbreviated to Sgt. and capitalized when used as a named person's title) is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces.
A rank of non-commissioned officer in the army or air force, above corporal and below staff sergeant.
A noncommissioned rank in the US Army or Marine Corps that is above corporal and below staff sergeant.
The rank of police officer next below a captain, lieutenant, or inspector.
A police officer holding this rank.
A sergeant at arms.
(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.
A lawyer of the highest rank, equivalent to the doctor of civil law.
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 servant in monastic offices.
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.
A lawyer of the highest rank, answering to the doctor of the civil law; - called also serjeant at law.
A title sometimes given to the servants of the sovereign; as, sergeant surgeon, that is, a servant, or attendant, surgeon.
Any of several noncommissioned officer ranks in the army or air force or marines ranking above a corporal
An English barrister of the highest rank
A police officer ranking below a captain or lieutenant.
Sergeant Miller responded to the emergency call.
A term of address for any rank of sergeant.
Yes, sergeant, I understood the command.
One who holds any of these ranks or a similar rank in another military organization.
A lawman with the rank of sergeant
What is the primary meaning of sergeant?
Sergeant refers to a non-commissioned officer in the military or police force.
Is the pronunciation of sergeant and sargent the same?
While they can sound similar, context usually distinguishes their use.
Is the term sargent related to military ranks?
No, Sargent is typically a surname and is not related to military ranks.
What is the origin of the word sergeant?
"Sergeant" comes from the Old French "sergent", meaning "a servant".
Does the word sargent have origins in the military?
No, "Sargent" is not derived from military contexts and is primarily a surname.
Can sergeant and sargent be used interchangeably?
No, "sergeant" denotes a rank, while "sargent" is primarily a surname.
How should one ensure correct usage of sergeant vs. sargent?
Always use "sergeant" when referring to the rank and "sargent" when referring to the surname.
How is sargent commonly used in sentences?
"Sargent" is mostly used as a last name, like in reference to the artist John Singer Sargent.
Are there other meanings of sergeant beyond military and police contexts?
Yes, sergeant can also refer to officials with specific duties in certain legal and ceremonial orders.
Are there common errors associated with the use of these words?
Yes, because of similar pronunciations, the two words can be mistakenly interchanged. It's essential to understand their distinct meanings and contexts.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.