Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A high administrative official or chief officer, as:
  • n. Any of several high military or civil officials in ancient Rome.
  • n. The chief of police of Paris, France.
  • n. A chief administrative official of a department of France.
  • n. The administrator in charge of discipline at a Jesuit school.
  • n. A student monitor or officer, especially in a private school.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An official of ancient Rome.
  • n. The head of a department in France.
  • n. A school pupil in a position of power over other pupils.
  • n. A commander.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A Roman officer who controlled or superintended a particular command, charge, department, etc.
  • n. A superintendent of a department who has control of its police establishment, together with extensive powers of municipal regulation.
  • n. In the Greek and Roman Catholic churches, a title of certain dignitaries below the rank of bishop.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A governor, commander, chief magistrate, or superintendent.
  • n. A director.
  • n. Tutelary divinity; presiding deity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a chief officer or chief magistrate

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin praefectus, from past participle of praeficere, to place at the head of : prae-, pre- + facere, to make; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin praefectus ("overseer, director, prefect"). Literally 'one having been put in charge'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This role as social prefect is an intolerable burden

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  • Around the time of Easter last year, the knight I mentioned earlier, whom we called the prefect of Tiberiad, and who had been victorious in that battle, was involved in another encounter, less fortunate for our men, in which he was captured, and brought alive by the pagans to

    The Deeds of God Through the Franks

  • The prefect is a member of FUC and the sultan is accused of sympathising with the rebels, who along with two other groups have been fighting the army in recent weeks, Tenebaye told AFP.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • He's called the prefect of the pontifical household.

    CNN Transcript Apr 4, 2005

  • The prefect was the arbiter of what was allowed and what was not allowed, an enforcer of rules, a catcher of mistakes.

    justinker Diary Entry

  • The prefect is another descendant of Fenardre the Great who would emulate his ancestor.

    The White Order

  • But you will remember that this happened in the Marconi period, and to be a prefect is a Preparation for Public Life.

    Surprised by Joy

  • The prefect spoke to Brother Michael and Brother Michael answered and called the prefect sir.

    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

  • Michael and Brother Michael answered and called the prefect sir.

    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

  • The prefect was a good and just man, and the nations were happy under his sway; but he died after a few years, and his wife, unfortunately, thought it wiser to leave Trèves and take her children to Rome, where they could get the best teaching and would become acquainted with their father's friends.

    The Red Book of Heroes

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