the meaning of line.

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kjc0123 | 08:30 Mon 25th Oct 2004 | Phrases & Sayings
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what is the meaning of "line" in the following two sentences?

1. Because of the acute need for officers at the beginning of the American Civil War, naval tradition was ignored and commodore became for the first time a permanent commissioned rank. Eighteen were authorized on July 16, 1862. The rank title also lost its "line command" status when, in 1863, the chiefs of the Bureaus of Medicine and Surgery, Provisions and Clothing, Steam Engineering, and Construction and Repair were given the rank of commodore.

2. Admiral Ernest King proposed bringing back the old rank of commodore for these officers. President Roosevelt agreed, though he specified that this rank be restricted to line officers.


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In the days of pitched battles at sea, the opposing fleets' fighting vessels - as opposed to supply-ships etc - would be drawn up in some sort of 'line' 'in line ahead' or 'in line abreast' preparation for the fight. These were called 'ships of the line' and the officers on them were 'line officers'.

You still see the same idea, in a slightky different sense, in the word 'liner' used to mean a passenger ship belonging to a given company...the Cunard Line etc.

"Line command" and "line officers" in this context would surely refer to the main run of naval officers who commanded (or aspired to command) a ship of the line, though this term was rather obsolete by the 1860s.  It thus means a ship-handling officer rather than a medical officer or the other categories mentioned.


Ships of the line were the large sailing men of war such as HMS Victory, which stood in the line of battle and hammered the living daylights out of the opposing line of battle.  Their captains were more senior than the captains of smaller vessels, frigates, sloops and the like.

Morning, QM.  Synchrography again!
Good-day, E. Yes, we really must stop meeting like this!

I'm a retired airline pilot, kjc, and the majority of pilots in "my" airline were known as line pilots.  Those are the ones who simply operate flights, as opposed to those who have management or training etc. responsibilities as well.


My previous answer was too early in the morning for me to think of that!

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the meaning of line.

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