1. Education.
    1. the head of a faculty, school, or administrative division in a university or college: the dean of admissions.
    2. an official in an American college or secondary school having charge of student personnel services, such as counseling or discipline: the dean of men.
    3. the official in charge of undergraduate students at an English university.
  2. Ecclesiastical.
    1. the head of the chapter of a cathedral or a collegiate church.
    2. Also called vicar forane.a priest in the Roman Catholic Church appointed by a bishop to take care of the affairs of a division of a diocese.
  3. the senior member, in length of service, of any group, organization, profession, etc.: the dean of lexicographers.

Origin of dean

1300–50; Middle English deen < Anglo-French deen, dean, Old French deien < Late Latin decānus chief of ten, equivalent to Latin dec(em) ten + -ānus -an
Related formsdean·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for deanship

Contemporary Examples of deanship

Historical Examples of deanship

British Dictionary definitions for deanship


  1. the chief administrative official of a college or university faculty
  2. (at Oxford and Cambridge universities) a college fellow with responsibility for undergraduate discipline
  3. mainly Church of England the head of a chapter of canons and administrator of a cathedral or collegiate church
  4. RC Church the cardinal bishop senior by consecration and head of the college of cardinalsSee also rural dean Related adjective: decanal
Derived Formsdeanship, noun

Word Origin for dean

C14: from Old French deien, from Late Latin decānus one set over ten persons, from Latin decem ten


  1. Forest of Dean a forest in W England, in Gloucestershire, between the Rivers Severn and Wye: formerly a royal hunting ground


  1. Christopher. See Torvill and Dean
  2. James (Byron). 1931–55, US film actor, who became a cult figure; his films include East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause (both 1955). He died in a car crash
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 deanship



early 14c., from Old French deien (12c., Modern French doyen), from Late Latin decanus "head of a group of 10 monks in a monastery," from earlier secular meaning "commander of 10 soldiers" (which was extended to civil administrators in the late empire), from Greek dekanos, from deka "ten" (see ten). Replaced Old English teoðingealdor. College sense is from 1570s (in Latin from late 13c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper