General English


  • noun an official group chosen to run something or to advise on a problem


  • adjective relating to or belonging to a local council
  • noun a group of representatives elected to run an area of a country.
  • noun a body of the legislature in several states


  • adjective inferior, of poor quality, shabby. The term, recorded since 2000, is inspired by council estates as a habitat of poor people.

Origin & History of “council”

Etymologically, a council is a body that has been ‘called together’ or ‘summoned’. Latin concilium meant ‘assembly, meeting’; it was formed from the prefix com- ‘together’ and calāre ‘call, summon’. It passed into English via Anglo-Norman cuncile. It has no direct etymological connection with counsel, but the two are so similar that their meanings have tended to merge at various points down the centuries.

Latin concilium also formed the basis of the verb conciliāre, which originally meant ‘bring together, unite’. Its metaphorical sense ‘make more friendly, win over’ is preserved in English conciliate (16th c.).