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[koun-suh l] /ˈkaʊn səl/
an assembly of persons summoned or convened for consultation, deliberation, or advice.
a body of persons specially designated or selected to act in an advisory, administrative, or legislative capacity:
the governor's council on housing.
(in certain British colonies or dependencies) an executive or legislative body assisting the governor.
an ecclesiastical assembly for deciding matters of doctrine or discipline.
New Testament. the Sanhedrin or other authoritative body.
Origin of council
1125-75; Middle English co(u)nsile < Anglo-French cuncil(e), Old French concile < Late Latin concilium synod, church council (Latin: assembly), probably equivalent to Latin con- con- + -cil(āre), combining form of calāre to summon, convoke + -ium -ium; Middle English -s- by association with Anglo-French cunseil counsel
Related forms
subcouncil, noun
Can be confused
board, committee, council, panel, trust.
consul, council, counsel (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Council, counsel, and consul are not interchangeable. Council is a noun. Its most common sense is “an assembly of persons convened for deliberation or the like.” It is generally used with a singular verb. A member of such a group is a councilor. Counsel is both noun and verb. Its most common meaning as a noun is “advice given to another”: His counsel on domestic relations is sound. A person giving such advice is a counselor. In law, counsel means “legal adviser or advisers” and can be either singular or plural. As a verb, counsel means “to advise.” The noun consul refers to the representative of a government who guards the welfare of its citizens in a foreign country. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for council
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What the colony looked for was, that every man who went into the council would do his duty.

  • The influence of Westhampton is Radical, and fills the council with a lot of outsiders.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • There they sat down around a council table, and there they divided the spoils.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Out of the tail of his eye he could see that the rest of the council were startled.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • Taku-Wakin stood up and stretched out his hand to the council.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
British Dictionary definitions for council


an assembly of people meeting for discussion, consultation, etc: an emergency council
a body of people elected or appointed to serve in an administrative, legislative, or advisory capacity: a student council
(sometimes capital) (Brit) the council, the local governing authority of a town, county, etc
a meeting or the deliberation of a council
(modifier) of, relating to, provided for, or used by a local council: a council chamber, council offices
(modifier) (Brit) provided by a local council, esp (of housing) at a subsidized rent: a council house, a council estate
(Austral) an administrative or legislative assembly, esp the upper house of a state parliament in Australia
(Christianity) an assembly of bishops, theologians, and other representatives of several churches or dioceses, convened for regulating matters of doctrine or discipline
Word Origin
C12: from Old French concile, from Latin concilium assembly, from com- together + calāre to call; influenced also by Latin consilium advice, counsel
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 council

early 12c., from Anglo-French cuncile, from Old North French concilie (Old French concile, 12c.) "assembly; council meeting; body of counsellors," from Latin concilium "group of people, meeting," from com- "together" (see com-) + calare "to call" (see claim (v.)). Tendency to confuse it in form and meaning with counsel has been consistent since 16c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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