pre·​fect ˈprē-ˌfekt How to pronounce prefect (audio)
: 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

Examples of prefect in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Mike Gilbert, who has known O’Connor since the pair were 11, tells a story about the day the school prefects were announced. Gaby Wood, Vogue, 17 Aug. 2023 Laurent Nuñez, the Paris police prefect, told the French TV channel CNews on Wednesday that the two officers had tried to stop the car because the driver had committed several traffic violations and had refused to stop a first time before getting stuck in traffic., 28 June 2023 Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, prefect of the Vatican’s culture office, said the statement was a reflection of the Vatican’s dialogue with Indigenous peoples. Nicole Winfield, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Mar. 2023 Nashville school shooting live updates:Officers Engelbert, Collazo seen in body cam video hailed as heroes A statement by the CGT claimed that requisitions of trucks, incinerators and personnel, ordered by the Paris police prefect, had bled the movement, leading to its suspension. Thomas Adamson, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2023 The door opened and a prefect came in. Ian McEwan, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Under Benedict, he was named the prefect of the papal household—the gatekeeper to the Pope. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2023 The Naples prefect confirmed that the death toll in the tragedy had risen to two, following also the recovery of the body of a 31-year-old woman from the island on Saturday. Colleen Barry, USA TODAY, 28 Nov. 2022 The Naples prefect confirmed that five people remained missing, and feared buried under the debris of an enormous landslide that struck Casamicciola before dawn on Saturday., 27 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prefect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prefect was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near prefect

Cite this Entry

“Prefect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​fect ˈprē-ˌfekt How to pronounce prefect (audio)
: a high official or judge (as of ancient Rome or France)
: a student assistant in some schools

More from Merriam-Webster on prefect

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