From the Anglo-Norman pretour, pretore, the Middle French preteur (from the Old French pretor; compare the Modern French préteur), and their etymon, the Classical Latin praetor (“leader”, “commander”, “magistrate”); the Latin praetor being contracted from *praeitor (“one who goes before”), from praeeō (“I go before”), from prae (“before”) + eō (“I go”); compare the Italian pretore, the Portuguese pretor, and the Spanish pretor.
- (Roman history) The title designating a Roman administrative official whose role changed over time:
- (originally) A consul in command of the army.
- (after 366 BC) An annually-elected curule magistrate, subordinate to the consuls in provincial administration, and who performed some of their duties; numbering initially only one, later two (either of the praetor urbānus (“urban praetor”) or the praetor peregrīnus (“peregrine praetor”)), and eventually eighteen.
- (by extension) A high civic or administrative official, especially a chief magistrate or mayor. Sometimes used as a title.
- (in Italian seventeenth- and eighteenth-century history, translating the Italian "pretore") The title of the chief magistrate, the mayor, and/or the podestà in Palermo, in Verona, and in various other parts of Italy.