Mr.A is the CEO of the company. Mr. B will be in charge when Mr. A is away for vacation, business trip, or etc. Is there a word or prefix to call Mr. B, for example, temporary CEO, acting CEO?

  • It seems form the answers that there is some confusion: do you mean a title for the person that is handling someone's responsibilities, or the person that will handle someone's responsibilities?
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 12:13
  • Acting seems appropriate. Mr. B will be acting/acting as CEO while Mr. A is away. Please direct appropriate queries to Mr. B.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:16
  • Please check the link "About single word requests" and go through the list of questions at the bottom. When you add the additional information that's missing, we can see about re-opening this question.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:39
  • @KitFox I reviewed those questions: 1) Does the question describe exactly in what context you want to use a single word? Yes, I explained the context and situation as clear as I can. 2) Does the question specify the criteria for which the suggested word will be accepted? Yes, I stated that I want a word or words that can refer to that job. 3) Does the question list which words you didn't like? No, it doesn't because I don't know which word is the right one. 4) Does the question show that you searched for a suitable word before asking the question? Yes, it does because I gave 2 example words.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 8:10
  • Please suggest me if there is anything I need to improve to reopen the question.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 8:11

3 Answers 3


I would use "acting CEO", or in a very formal or serious situation (grave illness, maybe): "CEO pro tem" (short for pro tempore, i.e. for the time being).

If you're looking for a word which can describe the person's role (not title) as a backup to the boss, whether or not the boss is currently absent, then as @Jaydles suggested in the comments, you can say "he is on standby"; alternatively you could say exactly backup or the more formal understudy (typically reserved for acting/theatre).

For example: "The boss' wife is going to give birth any day now, so he's got Sam on standby for him" (or just "Sam is on standby"), or the boss could say "Bob's my backup in case I have to leave early" or "Umberto is understudying me [or is my understudy]".

  • Acting is only applicable in the actual absence of the original. You don't apply the title to someone just in case. It is not uncommon though that a vice-president is acting president when needed, or a deputy-CEO is acting CEO when the latter is absent.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 11:53
  • Given the phrasing of the question "a temporary position when the real one is not in office" and the example "temporary CEO", I'm pretty sure @anonymous wants the title of the person who is currently (albeit temporarily) handling the CEO's responsibilities. This is in contrast to a permanent title, like vice-president, which as I said below, is a role unto itself.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 12:47
  • Ok, it seems I made the mistake of reading the question instead of just the title. "Mr. B will be in charge when Mr. A is away[..] " doesn't seem to indicate that Mr.A is away at this moment. But I guess the voters have decided what the OP wanted - in his absence :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 13:17
  • +1 In big companies in the US, "acting" is by far the most commonly used, but as oerkelens points out, it's not applied to a person on "standby" unless you're talking about when they'll actually be called up. ("If Mr. A is away and unreachable, Mr. B will serve as acting CEO.")
    – Jaydles
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 14:22
  • I like "standby"; if you don't mind, I'll add it to my answer.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 14:45

My suggestion for temporary CEO is Interim CEO


A person appointed by a company's board of directors to assume the role of chief executive officer during a time of transition or as the result of the sudden departure of the company's previous CEO. These CEOs are tagged with the "interim" tag due to the fact that they have not officially been given the title of full-time CEO. Like many industry leaders, interim CEOs are often called upon to "steady the ship" in periods of great turmoil.


  • 2
    That doesn't fit the "vacation" or "business trip" part of the question. OP asks for someone to stand in for a person when they are temporarily away. An interim is appointed in between (that is what it means!) two people normally holding the position, and is often, as your source says, a measure in a crisis situation.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 11:26
  • this is wrong. he's looking for the word to describe the person "all the time" while "waiting" to take over when the main guy is missing
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:01

You could, especially in British English, refer to such a person as a locum, short for locum tenens, "one holding a place".


(British) A person who stands in temporarily for someone else of the same profession, especially a cleric or doctor.


  • This is actually in common use in British English; you could reasonably expect a doctor's receptionist to say "I'm sorry, but Dr Jones is on holiday. Would you be willing to see his locum instead?"
    – Chowlett
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 12:57
  • A AmE receptionist would more likely say "his stand-in" or "substitute" (we have substitute teachers here), but that has a whiff of decreased standards, like an imitation Rolex (sure, maybe, but I want the real thing). I imagine that doesn't apply to locum in BrE? In any case, it's a cool word.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 13:04
  • I would indeed not consider a "locum" to be inferior. I suppose there may be a slight hint of junior (since a senior doctor is likely to be fixed to a partnership of their own), but I'm mostly hypothesising there.
    – Chowlett
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 13:09
  • it's an interesting point whether you can call someone a locum if they are "waiting to" fill a temp role, or, if you can only call them a locum while they "are filling" a temp role! I don't know. Great thinking though
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:03
  • @JoeBlow - I believe you would not generally refer to a permanent standby as a "locum"; only someone actually filling in at the moment.
    – Chowlett
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:36

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