early 14c., "one who holds an official post, one entrusted with a responsibility or share of the management of some undertaking" (originally a high office), from Old French oficier "officer, official" (early 14c., Modern French officier), from Medieval Latin officiarius "an officer," from Latin officium "a service, a duty" (see office).
In Middle English also "a servant, a retainer of a great household; an official at court" (late 14c.). From late 14c. as "a military retainer," but the modern military sense of "one who holds a commission in the army or navy" is from 1560s. Applied to petty officials of justice from 16c.; U.S. use in reference to policemen is from 1880s.
The phrase officer and a gentleman in reference to one having the qualities of both is by 1762 and was standard language in British court-martial indictments ("behaviour infamous and scandalous such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman").
The words 'officer and gentleman,' though in general to be understood as one single and indivisible term, appear not to be so used here. The misbehaviour, entailing on it the penalty declared by this article, must be such, as I understand it, as to implicate, in the first place, the officer; that is, it must arise in some sort out of his office; and affect incidentally only, the character of the gentleman. It must be such a misconduct, as must necessarily dissever what should ever be indivisible, the consideration of the officer from the gentleman. It must be of that decisively low, humiliating, and debasing kind, as to lay prostrate the honour of the gentleman, in the degradation of the officer. [Capt. Hough and George Long, "The Practice of Courts-Martial," London, 1825]
late 14c., armee, "armed expedition," from Old French armée "armed troop, armed expedition" (14c.), from Medieval Latin armata "armed force," from Latin armata, fem. of armatus "armed, equipped, in arms," as a noun, "armed men, soldiers," past participle of armare "to arm," literally "act of arming," related to arma "tools, arms" (see arm (n.2)).
Originally used of expeditions on sea or land; the restriction to "land force" is by late 18c. The transferred meaning "host, multitude" is by c. 1500. The meaning "body of men trained and equipped for war" is from 1550s.
The Old English words were here (still preserved in derivatives such as harrier; see harry (v.)), from Proto-Germanic *harjan, from PIE *korio- "people, crowd;" and fierd, with an original sense of "expedition," from Proto-Germanic *farthi-, related to faran "travel" (see fare (v.)). In spite of etymology, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle here generally meant "invading Vikings" and fierd was used for the local militias raised to fight them. Army-ant is from 1863, so called for marching in immense numbers.
"military officer in ancient Rome," commander of a company of infantry, late 13c., from Latin centurionem (nominative centurio), "Roman army officer, head of a centuria" (a group of one hundred); see century. Latin centurio was glossed in Old English by hundredes ealdor.
mid-13c., "high officer of the royal court," charged with regulating ceremonies and maintaining order (early 13c. as a surname), from Old French mareschal "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" (Modern French maréchal), originally "stable officer, horse tender, groom" (Frankish Latin mariscaluis) from Frankish *marhskalk or a similar Germanic word, literally "horse-servant" (compare Old High German marahscalc "groom," Middle Dutch maerschalc).
This is from a Proto-Germanic compound of *markhaz "horse" (see mare (n.1)) + *skalkaz "servant" (source of Old English scealc "servant, retainer, member of a crew," Dutch schalk "rogue, wag," Gothic skalks "servant"). It corresponds to Old English horsþegn.
From early 14c. as "military commander, general in the army." In the U.S., a civil officer appointed by the president (with advice and consent of the Senate) in each judicial district as the executive officer of the Supreme Court and the federal courts in his district. For sense development and the tendency of officers of the stable to become chief officers of royal households, compare constable. Also from Germanic are Italian scalco "steward," Spanish mariscal "marshal."
late 14c., "whole class of things or persons, a broad classification, a general truth," from general (adj.). Meaning "commander of an army" is 1570s, shortening of captain general, from French capitaine général. The English adjective was affixed to civic officer designations by late 14c. to indicate superior rank and extended jurisdiction.
"messenger, envoy," late 13c. (in Anglo-Latin); c. 1200 as a surname, from Anglo-French heraud, Old French heraut, hiraut (12c.), from Frankish *hariwald "commander of an army" or a similar Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *harja "army" (from PIE root *koro- "war;" see harry) + *waldaz "to command, rule" (see wield). The form fits, but the sense evolution is difficult to explain, unless it is in reference to the chief officer of a tournament, who introduced knights and made decisions on rules (which was one of the early senses, often as heraud of armes, though not the earliest in English).
1670s, "system of strict discipline," from the name of French military officer Jean Martinet (killed at the siege of Duisburg, 1672), lieutenant colonel in the Régiment du Roi, who in 1668 was appointed inspector general of the infantry. "It was his responsibility to introduce and enforce the drill and strict discipline of the French regiment of Guards across the whole infantry" [Olaf van Minwegen, "The Dutch Army and the Military Revolutions 1588-1688," 2006].
The meaning "an officer who is a stickler for discipline and regularity in small details" is first attested 1779 in English, but "No F[rench] use of the word in the sense of a disciplinarian appears" [Century Dictionary]. The surname is a diminutive of Latin Martinus (see Martin). Related: Martinetism.
also quarter-master, early 15c., "subordinate officer of a ship," from French quartier-maître or directly from Dutch kwartier-meester; originally a ship's officer whose duties included stowing of the hold; later (c. 1600) an officer in charge of quarters and rations for troops. See quarters.