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1680s, from French commandant "the one commanding" originally "commanding," present participle of commander (Old French comander) "to order, enjoin;" see command (v.). Similar formation in Spanish and Italian comandante.
commander of a single place or body of men, such as a military school or training unit, or of a larger organization such as a naval district in the United States. The rank of a commandant depends upon the size and importance of his command: in the British Army a colonel commandant is the senior officer of a regiment; in the French Army a commandant is the commanding officer of a battalion, a rank equivalent to major; and the commandant of the United States Marine Corps is a four-star general. Headquarters commandant denotes a staff officer in charge of the internal administration of a military headquarters, with emphasis on maintenance and security of buildings and grounds