noun \ˈprē-ˌfekt\

: a chief officer or government official who is responsible for a particular area in some countries (such as Japan and France)

: an older student who is given the job of helping to watch and control younger students in a school

Full Definition of PREFECT

:  any of various high officials or magistrates of differing functions and ranks in ancient Rome
:  a chief officer or chief magistrate
:  a student monitor in a usually private school

Origin of PREFECT

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praefectus, from past participle of praeficere to place at the head of, from prae- + facere to make — more at do
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Foreign Functionary Terms

count, despot, emir, wardrobe, yeoman


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In ancient Rome, any of various high officials with primarily judicial and administrative responsibilities. In the early republic, a prefect of the city (praefectus urbi) took over the consul's duties during their absence from Rome. The office lost some importance after the introduction of praetors (mid 4th century BC). Augustus revitalized the office when he appointed five prefects to supervise the city government, the fire brigade, the grain supply, and the Praetorian Guard. The praetorian prefects acquired great power and often became virtual prime ministers.


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