Sometimes abbreviated as Pte, signifies the lowest rank in the army. The word came into use during the 16th century when people were commonly classified as either private or public persons. A private person was someone without public office or rank. The same held true in the army during the 16th century, where a private soldier was a volunteer soldier without rank. When the army became a proper profession during the 17th century, the term private was retained as the lowest rank. The next rank up from private was Lance Corporal, which was classified as a non-commissioned officer.