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Since in the military ranks, lieutenant is lower than a major. Why is it that in the rankings of generals......major general is lower than a lieutenant general?

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closed as off topic by Daniel, Robusto, Mahnax, Lynn, FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 3:04

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This is waaaaay off-topic. – user11550 Mar 12 '12 at 2:38
Off-topic, but here's a link that explains it: xenograg.com/364/excerpts/origin-of-rank-and-grades-of-general – Lynn Mar 12 '12 at 2:56
Could we "migrate" this question to say, the history site? – Tom Au Mar 12 '12 at 13:04
Since it based on "Lieutenant" originally meaning "assistant" it is on topic for ELU - unless somebody wanted to claim it was French-LU – mgb Jul 21 '15 at 4:13

Because it comes from Sergeant Major General and a Sergeant Major is, of course, lower than a Lieutenant.

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Wikipedia has the answer:

In French history, “lieutenant du roi” was a title born by the officer sent with military powers to represent the king in certain provinces. A lieutenant du roi was sometimes known as a lieutenant general to distinguish him from lieutenants subordinate to mere captains. The sergeant acting as staff officer to the captain general was known as the sergeant-major general. This was eventually shortened to major general, while captain general was shortened to simply general. This is the reason a major outranks a lieutenant, but a lieutenant general outranks a major general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_rank

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