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[proh-vohst, prov-uh st or, esp. in military usage, proh-voh] /ˈproʊ voʊst, ˈprɒv əst or, esp. in military usage, ˈproʊ voʊ/
a person appointed to superintend or preside.
an administrative officer in any of various colleges and universities who holds high rank and is concerned with the curriculum, faculty appointments, etc.
Ecclesiastical. the chief dignitary of a cathedral or collegiate church.
the steward or bailiff of a medieval manor or an officer of a medieval administrative district.
the mayor of a municipality in Scotland.
Obsolete. a prison warden.
Origin of provost
before 900; Middle English; Old English profost < Medieval Latin prōpositus abbot, prior, provost, literally, (one) placed before, Latin: past participle of prōpōnere. See pro-1, posit
Related forms
provostship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for provost
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was provost, my first professor, who had come to encourage me.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • provost was tall, his silvery hair was blown about, and he had a droll face.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • provost heard my "cue" on the stage, and pushed me gently forward.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • "Well, you needn't pay any heed to the provost, need you," Mr. Quinn retorted.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
  • The provost's men are beating the country for the blackguard.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • "Nor will it be taken," the provost insisted, with an assurance that carried conviction.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for provost


an appointed person who superintends or presides
the head of certain university colleges or schools
(in Scotland) the chairman and civic head of certain district councils or (formerly) of a burgh council Compare convener (sense 2)
(Church of England) the senior dignitary of one of the more recent cathedral foundations
(RC Church)
  1. the head of a cathedral chapter in England and some other countries
  2. (formerly) the member of a monastic community second in authority under the abbot
(in medieval times) an overseer, steward, or bailiff in a manor
(obsolete) a prison warder
(Brit & Canadian, military) (prəˈvəʊ). a military policeman
Word Origin
Old English profost, from Medieval Latin prōpositus placed at the head (of), from Latin praepōnere to place first, from prae- before + pōnere to put
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 provost

Old English profost, reinforced by Old French cognate provost, both from Late Latin propositus (reinforced by Old French cognate provost), from Latin propositus/praepositus "a chief, prefect" (source of Old Provençal probost, Old High German probost, German Propst), literally "placed before, in charge of," from past participle of praeponere "put before" (see preposition). Provost marshal first recorded 1510s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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