Back in the day, as with today, a ship's company consisted of enlisted men and officers. In addition, there were the sons of rich people who were training to become officers. They tended to be young, and this was their first time away from home.

On board a ship, your bunking arrangements depended on your rank. The captain had the cabin under the quarterdeck. Officers were forward of that, and enlisted or pressed men slept at the bow. Midshipmen were neither officers nor enlisted, and so lived in the middle of the ship, hence the name.

Sometimes, they are referred to as snotties.

Mid"ship`man (?), n.; pl. Midshipmen ().

1. (a)

Formerly, a kind of naval cadet, in a ship of war, whose business was to carry orders, messages, reports, etc., between the officers of the quarter-deck and those of the forecastle, and render other services as required.


In the English naval service, the second rank attained by a combatant officer after a term of service as naval cadet. Having served three and a half years in this rank, and passed an examination, he is eligible to promotion to the rank of lieutenant.


In the United States navy, the lowest grade of officers in line of promotion, being graduates of the Naval Academy awaiting promotion to the rank of ensign.

2. Zool.

An American marine fish of the genus Porichthys, allied to the toadfish.

Cadet midshipman, formerly a title distinguishing a cadet line officer from a cadet engineer at the U. S. Naval Academy. See under Cadet. -- Cadet midshipman, formerly, a naval cadet who had served his time, passed his examinations, and was awaiting promotion; -- now called, in the United States, midshipman; in England, sublieutenant.


© Webster 1913.

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