AskDefine | Define cadet

Dictionary Definition

cadet n : a military trainee (as at a military academy) [syn: plebe]

User Contributed Dictionary





  • /kəˈdɛt/
  • Rhymes with: -ɛt


  1. A student at a military school who is training to be an officer.
  2. Junior, the younger or youngest son.

Derived terms

Related terms



Extensive Definition

This article refers to the general definition of cadet. A Cadet may also be a member of the Cadets, a historical Russian political party. For the record label, see Cadet Records.
A cadet is a future officer in the military. The term is often used by uniformed services. The term may also refer to a person who is junior in some way.


The word is recorded in English since 1610, originally for a young son, identical to the French, which is itself derived from Gascon (French Basque dialect of Gascony in southwest France) capdet "captain, chief," in turn from the Late Latin capitellum, the diminitutive of Latin caput "head" (hence also chief). Younger sons from Gascon families apparently were commonly sent to the French court to serve as officers; as a rule non-heirs from the European nobility sought careers in the military or the clergy.

Genealogical usage

A cadet is a younger son, as opposed to the firstborn heir. Compare puisne.
As an adjective, "cadet" is used to signify the junior branch of a family. Thus, the Orleans line was a cadet branch of the Bourbon family. For the status as such, the noun cadency exists, as in the heraldic term mark of cadency for a feature which distinguishes a cadet son's coat of arms from the father's which is passed on unaltered only to the (usually firstborn) heir.

Military context

seealso Officer Cadet
In Commonwealth countries, including United Kingdom, a cadet is a member of one of the cadet forces. In the United Kingdom these are the Combined Cadet Force, the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps. Military officers in training are called officer cadets.
In Canada, the term "cadet" refers to an officer in training, with the official rank names as Officer Cadet for the Air Force and Army and Naval Cadet for the Navy. It also refers to any member of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, Royal Canadian Air Cadets or Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. These three organizations are volunteer youth groups administered by the Department of National Defence.
In Germany, the rank Cadet (German: Seekadett) only exists in the German Navy for officers in training. In the Army and the Luftwaffe, officers in training usually have the rank of a Fahnenjunker or Ensign (German: Fähnrich) before they are promoted into the rank of a Lieutenant.
In Ireland, Cadet is a pupil of the Military College, which carries out officer training for the Air Corps, Army and Naval Service. Training takes 2 years and the Cadets are split into Senior and Junior Grades and Classes.
In Norway, a "cadet" is a pupil of either of the three the Krigsskolen ("war schools"), which educate commanding officers for either the Army, the Navy or to the Air Force.
In the United States, cadet refers to an officer in training. Students at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and members of the Air Force and Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps officially rank as "Cadet" while holding varying cadet ranks in their individual organizations.
In Australia Cadet also refers to an officer in training. The official rank is Officer Cadet (OCDT) however OCDT's in the Royal Military College - Duntroon are referred to as Staff Cadet (SCDT) for historical reasons.

Youth cadet corps

In the British and Commonwealth (formerly Empire) as well as Russian service, these groups of boys or youths are organized, armed and trained on volunteer military lines.


In Australia, a "Cadet" is a person aged between 13 and 20 who is a member of the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC). The ADFC comprises the Australian Navy Cadets (ANC), the Australian Army Cadets (AAC), and the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC). To join cadets or for more information of the Australian Navy cadets vist the best cadet known of is Cadet Robertson of Coffs Harbour ,NSW, 2450.


Cadets Canada is the marketing name for the Canadian Cadet Organizations that comprise the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.
The program is sponsored by the Canadian Forces and funded through the Department of National Defence (DND) in partnership with the Army Cadet, Air Cadet, and Navy Leagues of Canada.
The term Cadet Movement applies when speaking of everyone associated with the program including the CF, DND, Leagues, Community Sponsors, Cadets, and parents and guardians of cadets.
St. John Ambulance in Canada supports a youth division that includes "cadets".

Hong Kong

Two cadet corps are linked to Hong Kong colonial past:
Both are now funded by the Hong Kong government and has no ties to either the British Forces of the PLA.


In Ireland a cadet is a young member of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps or the St. John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland.


In Singapore, three national cadet forces exist: the National Cadet Corps, National Police Cadet Corps and the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps. These cadet organisations have a uniform and rank structure which closely mirrors that of their parent body.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, there one primary cadet force which is the National Cadet Corps (NCC). In resent years Air Force Cadet platoons have been established, however its unknown if these units come under the NCC or the Sri Lanka Air Force.

United Kingdom

In Commonwealth countries, including United Kingdom, a cadet is a member of one of the cadet forces. In the United Kingdom, the cadet forces are the Sea Cadets, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps (each is a stand alone youth organisations) and the school-based Combined Cadet Force. In the UK, alongside the mainstream cadet forces are the Volunteer Cadet Corps (VCC), also sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) - these are mostly based in the South of England and include Royal Marines Cadets. Cadets also represent St. John Ambulance in the line of public duties and first aid. Many services have a Police Cadet Corps.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the cadet forces are the Air Training Corps (ATC), the New Zealand Cadet Corps (NZCC) and the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC). All of these organisations are part of the umbrella organisation of the New Zealand Cadet Forces


Russian cadet corps have existed since 1732 and despite being banned by the Soviet government for their support of the White movement, were reintroduced after the fall of the USSR.

United States

The United States also has several youth cadet organizations. The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps is a youth citizenship program with units administered by either the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard in American high schools. One of the primary functions of the Civil Air Patrol is to administer a similar cadet program training in elements of leadership, aerospace studies, and search and rescue. There are other programs including the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the Young Marines. The oldest cadet program in the United States is the American Cadet Alliance which was created in 1909. For those who choose to enter a formal program to become an officer, cadet is the rank bestowed on those in West Point, the Coast Guard Academy, and ROTC. Members of these programs will be commisioned in the military, with a term of commitment afterwards.

Civilian context

Hong Kong

In early colonial history of Hong Kong, cadet was a system for training young Englishmen to be officials for Hong Kong where they had to learn Chinese culture and sometimes Cantonese language and written Chinese in Hong Kong. Some of cadets became major officials and even Hong Kong Governors. At later stage of colony cadets were young policemen under training in Royal Hong Kong Police Force.


In Switzerland, cadet (German: Kadett) refers to a participant of the programs of a corps of cadets (German:Kadettenkorps), which are maintained by public schools or private associations. From the late 18th century to the mid-20th century, the Kadettenkorps used to prepare highschool students for service in the Swiss army. Influenced by the "Turnerbewegung" ('Gym movement'), the Kadettenkorps started in the early 20th century to shift their programme towards sports. Nowadays, the Swiss Cadets Association (German: Kadetten Schweiz) includes Kadettenkorps offering the following programmes: general sports (including the national league handball club Kadetten Schaffhausen), trecking (like scouting), march music bands (German:Kadettenmusik) and traffic regulation (German:Verkehrskadetten). Kadettenkorps offering traffic regulation only, are represented by the Swiss Verkehrskadetten Association (German:Schweizerischer Verkehrskadetten Verband).

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a similar usage exists for personnel in training to become fire and rescue service officers.

United States

In the United States, cadet refers to an officer in training for the police, firefighter and EMT services. Some police and sheriff's departments employ cadets as non-sworn law enforcement officers, either before or after entering a training academy. An example is the NYC police cadet corps.

Merchant Navy

In the Merchant Navy, a Cadet is an officer under training in much the same way as the military context. Cadets choose either one of two branches for professional development. Deck Cadets train in the fields of Navigation, Shiphandling and Cargo Handling as well as Maritime Law. They will also receive training in firefighting, first aid and survival techniques. Engineering Cadets train to become Marine Engineers, and as such their fields encompass a range of theoretical and practical engineering subjects, including mechanical physics, thermodynamics, control engineering, applied mathematics, welding and fabrication. Engineering practice is mostly learned during the Cadet's assignment to a ship. Engineering Cadets also train in firefighting, survival and first aid. The cadet training scheme differs from country to country, but the learning objectives are always the same. In the UK for example, Cadets undergo training in a block-release format, spending a shorter time in college before going to sea for a short assignment after which the cadet returns to college. Other countries allow the cadet to finish his/her degree before going to sea, but most countries seem to prefer a system where a cadet completes all of his/her sea time before returning to college for the final year of their degree.

Other usage

Some sports teams also refer to players that are in the process of being built up to play for the team at a later date as cadets. Such players often play for a lesser team in the same club. This is done quite commonly in the National Rugby League (NRL). The Serie B, the second most important football league in Italy, is nicknamed campionato cadetto, meaning championship of the cadets.
In Australia, the term is also used to describe a person pursuing a career as a Chartered Accountant under the "Cadetship" program, designed to accelerate career progression for motivated students. The programs are offered to students finishing high school or currently undertaking tertiary studies in relevant courses by several Accounting firms such as Three of the Big 4 accountancy firms (KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young), and mid-tier firms such as BDO and Grant Thornton.
To refer to someone as a space cadet is to imply that they are "on another planet," i.e. foolish, ditzy or dim. For example; "That guy is cadetting it." The phrase was inspired by science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile novel Space Cadet.
Cadet may also refer to someone belonging to "The Cadets" a Division I Drum and Bugle Corps, who have been Drum Corps International World Champions numerous times.
cadet in Danish: Kadet
cadet in German: Kadett (Militär)
cadet in Spanish: Cadete
cadet in French: Cadet
cadet in Hebrew: שוחר
cadet in Polish: Kadet
cadet in Portuguese: Cadete
cadet in Finnish: Kadetti
cadet in Swedish: Kadett
cadet in Ukrainian: Кадет

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Naval Reservist, Royal Marine, Seabee, bluejacket, boot, freshman, frogman, gob, horse marine, jolly, junior, marine, midshipman, midshipmite, naval cadet, navy man, plebe, senior, soph, sophomore, swabbie, undergrad, undergraduate, upperclassman
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