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What is a general word for someone in the military who has a higher rank than someone or a group of people ?

For example someone can be a commander or captain, etc, but when an officer wants to generally address that person and does not know what exactly that person's rank is, what can he/she say ? like "he is my ...."

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If you want to address him you say "Sir" (or "Ma'am" for her). That is probably the first thing you learn in the military. –  TimLymington Jun 29 at 20:35
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One may also use "Staff" (at least in Commonwealth countries) to address a person whose rank is not known to you and who may be a non-commissioned officer below the rank of Warrant Officer (or equivalent). (That's generally when you're being yelled at from behind for some breach of protocol or etiquette, but it could also be because you are unfamiliar with the rank designations for NCOs that go with particular rank insignia in another branch/service/regiment. You will generally be told, and quickly, how to fill in the blank.) –  bye Jun 30 at 15:18
    
Note that in the U.S. military "sir" is used to address commissioned officers, not NCOs. –  spudone Jun 30 at 17:34
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1 Answer 1

up vote 30 down vote accepted

Superior ( in rank):

One that surpasses another in rank or quality.

Reporting to a Superior Officer:

When reporting to a superior officer in his or her office, the Cadet, officer, or Soldier removes headgear, knocks, and enters when told to do so, approaches within two steps of the officer’s desk, halts, salutes, and reports, “Sir (Ma’am), Cadet Jones reports.” Hold the salute until your report is complete and the officer has returned your salute. At the end of the report, you salute again, holding the salute until it is returned.

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Superior on its own is a little ambiguous, because it might mean any officer with a higher rank, or the more restricted meaning of an officer who is above the person in the chain of command. A superior officer unambiguously has the more general meaning. –  Colin Fine Jun 29 at 20:46
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Conversely, "ranking officer" describes the officer of higher rank in situations where the people in question are not part of the same chain of command. –  bobtato Jun 29 at 22:43
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Sure "superior officer" is more specific but it would only be used for officers. Superior is the correct general term in the US military. Supervisor is often used in the US Army specifically to describe what's more specifically called a "first line supervisor" aka who you report to directly. –  Preston Fitzgerald Jun 30 at 2:54
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Commanding Officer –  JamesRyan Jun 30 at 11:02
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To be a little pedantic, if this were referring to the US Navy & Marines, they don't wear covers (hats) indoors, nor do they salute indoors. However, I agree that "superior officer", or "my superior" would be correct. Also, if everyone is in uniform, everyone is going to know who are the superior officers by their collar, cover or sleeve insignia. This is taught to everyone in the service (at least in the US military). They may not know who the ranking officer is because there may be several officers of the same rank, but it's usually fairly easy to discern by observing who defers to whom. –  delliottg Jun 30 at 15:56
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