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[awl-der-muh n] /ˈɔl dər mən/
noun, plural aldermen.
a member of a municipal legislative body, especially of a municipal council.
(in England) one of the members, chosen by the elected councilors, in a borough or county council.
Early English History.
  1. a chief.
  2. (later) the chief magistrate of a county or group of counties.
Northern U.S. Slang. a pot belly.
Origin of alderman
before 900; Middle English; Old English (e)aldormann, equivalent to ealdor chief, patriarch (eald old + -or noun suffix) + mann man1
Related forms
aldermancy, aldermanship, noun
[awl-der-man-ik] /ˌɔl dərˈmæn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
underalderman, noun, plural underaldermen.
Usage note
See -man. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for alderman
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Mr. Waterbury is a gentleman of veracity," said alderman Morris sharply.

    The Young Adventurer Horatio Alger
  • When Mercia became subject to Wessex it was ruled by an alderman.

    The History of London Walter Besant
  • As elsewhere, the presidency was assigned to an alderman and twelve councillors.

    The Hansa Towns Helen Zimmern
  • I hope you won't take no offense at what I said, not knowing you, alderman.

    The Young Adventurer Horatio Alger
  • It was endowed in 1895, partly from certain moneys left by alderman Dauntsey who flourished in the fifteenth century.

    Wanderings in Wessex Edric Holmes
British Dictionary definitions for alderman


noun (pl) -men
(in England and Wales until 1974) one of the senior members of a local council, elected by other councillors
(in the US, Canada, Australia, etc) a member of the governing body of a municipality
(history) a variant spelling of ealdorman
Abbreviations (for senses 1, 2) Ald, Aldm
Derived Forms
aldermanic (ˌɔːldəˈmænɪk) adjective
aldermanry, noun
aldermanship, noun
Word Origin
Old English aldormann, from ealdor chief (comparative of ealdold) + mannman
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alderman

Old English aldormonn (Mercian), ealdormann (West Saxon) "ruler, prince, chief; chief officer of a shire," from aldor, ealder "patriarch" (comparative of ald "old;" see old) + monn, mann "man" (see man (n.)). A relic of the days when the elders were automatically in charge of the clan or tribe, but already in Old English used for king's viceroys, regardless of age. The word yielded in Old English to eorl, and after the Norman Conquest to count (n.). Meaning "headman of a guild" (early 12c.) passed to "magistrate of a city" (c.1200) as the guilds became identified with municipal government.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alderman in Culture
alderman [(awl-duhr-muhn)]

A member of a city council. Aldermen usually represent city districts, called wards, and work with the mayor to run the city government. Jockeying among aldermen for political influence is often associated with machine politics.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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