[koun-suh l]


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 formssub·coun·cil, noun
Can be confusedboard committee council panel trustconsul 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for council

Contemporary Examples of council

Historical Examples of council

  • 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.


    William J. Locke

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

  • Tse-tse's father heard of it and carried the matter to Council.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • The three generals now held a council of war, to decide on a plan of campaign.

British Dictionary definitions for council



an assembly of people meeting for discussion, consultation, etcan emergency council
a body of people elected or appointed to serve in an administrative, legislative, or advisory capacitya student council
the council (sometimes capital) British 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 councila council chamber; council offices
(modifier) British provided by a local council, esp (of housing) at a subsidized renta council house; a council estate
Australian 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 for council

C12: from Old French concile, from Latin concilium assembly, from com- together + calāre to call; influenced also by Latin consilium advice, counsel


Avoid confusion with 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

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