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See also: Provost


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From Middle English, from late Old English profost, from Late Latin prōpositus, variant of Latin praepositus ([one] placed in command). In some senses, via Anglo-Norman provolt &c.; via Anglo-Norman and Old French provost (modern French prévôt). As a Central European ecclesiastical office, via German Propst, Danish provst, &c.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒvəst/, /ˈpɹɒvɒst/
    (As military police): IPA(key): /pɹəʊˈvəʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɹoʊvoʊst /, /ˈpɹɑvəst/


provost (plural provosts)

  1. One placed in charge: a head, a chief, particularly:
    1. (religion, historical) A dean: the head of a cathedral chapter.
    2. (religion) The head of various other ecclesiastical bodies, even (rare, obsolete) muezzins.
    3. (religion) The minister of the chief Protestant church of a town or region in Germany, the Low Countries, and Scandinavia.
    4. (Britain, higher education) The head of various colleges and universities.
    5. (obsolete) A ruler.
    6. A mayor: the chief magistrate of a town, particularly (Scotland) the head of a burgh or (historical) the former chiefs of various towns in France, Flanders, or (by extension) other Continental European countries.
  2. A senior deputy, a superintendent, particularly:
    1. (religion, historical) A prior: an abbot's second-in-command.
    2. (US, higher education) A senior deputy administrator; a vice-president of academic affairs.
    3. (historical) A steward or seneschal: a medieval agent given management of a feudal estate or charged with collecting fees; (obsolete, sometimes as ~ of Paradise or ~ of Heaven) a title of the archangel Michael.
    4. (historical) Any manager or overseer in a medieval or early modern context.
    5. (obsolete) A viceroy.
    6. (obsolete) A governor.
    7. (obsolete) A reeve.
    8. (obsolete) Various Roman offices, as prefect and praetor.
    9. (historical) A constable: a medieval or early modern official charged with arresting, holding, and punishing criminals.
    10. (military) An officer of the military police, particularly provost marshal or provost sergeant.
    11. (fencing, historical) An assistant fencing master.
  3. (Britain, military slang, obsolete) A provost cell: a military cell or prison.


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


provost (third-person singular simple present provosts, present participle provosting, simple past and past participle provosted)

  1. (Britain, transitive, used in passive, obsolete, military slang) To be delivered to a provost marshal for punishment.
    Around the time of the Rebellions of 1837 and the First Anglo-Afghan War, British servicemen spoke of being provosted.


  • Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "provost, n." and "† provost, v." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2007.