[poh-des-tuh, poh-duh-stah]
  1. any of certain magistrates in Italy, as a chief magistrate in medieval towns and republics.
  2. a person appointed to serve as mayor of an Italian city during the Fascist regime.

Origin of podesta

1540–50; < Italian podestà power < Latin potestās power, command
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for podesta

Contemporary Examples of podesta

Historical Examples of podesta

  • And this letter from the Podesta; who is to reply, or what is the reply to be?

  • I put the Magazine in my coat-pocket, and left him and the podesta.


    William Makepeace Thackeray

  • And, in return, you demand our assent to your enjoying the rank of Podesta for five years?


    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • Savelli, however, insisted on conducting the Podesta that was to be, to his apartment.


    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • There was sometimes but one Podesta; sometimes one for each province.

British Dictionary definitions for podesta


  1. (in modern Italy) a subordinate magistrate in some towns
  2. (in Fascist Italy) the chief magistrate of a commune
  3. (in medieval Italy)
    1. any of the governors of the Lombard cities appointed by Frederick Barbarossa
    2. a chief magistrate in any of various republics, such as Florence

Word Origin for podesta

C16: from Italian: power, from Latin potestās ability, power, from posse to be able
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