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[soo-per-in-ten-duh nt, soo-prin-] /ˌsu pər ɪnˈtɛn dənt, ˌsu prɪn-/
a person who oversees or directs some work, enterprise, establishment, organization, district, etc.; supervisor.
a person who is in charge of maintenance and repairs of an apartment house; custodian.
a high-ranking police officer, especially a chief of police or an officer ranking next above an inspector.
Origin of superintendent
1545-55; < Medieval Latin superintendent- (stem of superintendēns), present participle of superintendere to superintend; see -ent Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for superintendent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The superintendent would have refused an interview but for one consideration.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • "I suppose you want to be taken back," said the superintendent, abruptly.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • That evening, the lawyer called at the house of the superintendent.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • I wish my father had intrusted his money to you instead of to the superintendent.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • It is the superintendent of the factory in our village—a man rich, or, at any rate, well-to-do.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
British Dictionary definitions for superintendent


/ˌsuːpərɪnˈtɛndənt; ˌsuːprɪn-/
a person who directs and manages an organization, office, etc
(in Britain) a senior police officer higher in rank than an inspector but lower than a chief superintendent
(in the US) the head of a police department
(mainly US & Canadian) a caretaker, esp of a block of apartments
of or relating to supervision; superintending
Word Origin
C16: from Church Latin superintendens overseeing
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 superintendent

1550s, originally an ecclesiastical word meaning "bishop" or "minister who supervises churches within a district" (a loan-translation of Greek episkopos "overseer"), from Medieval Latin superintendentem (nominative superintendens), from present participle of Late Latin superintendere "oversee," from Latin super "above" (see super-) + intendere "turn one's attention, direct" (see intend). Famously used by 16c. radical Protestants in place of bishop, which was to them tainted by Papacy.

[Martinists] studie to pull downe Bishopps, and set vp Superintendents, which is nothing else, but to raze out good Greeke, & enterline bad Latine. [Lyly, "Pappe with an Hatchet," 1589]
The general sense of "a person who has charge of some business" is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "janitor, custodian" is from c.1935. Shortened form super first attested 1857, especially at first of overseers of sheep ranches in Australia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for superintendent


Related Terms

sidewalk superintendent

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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