deputy

Definitions

General English

Law

  • noun somebody who takes the place of a higher official, who assists a higher official
  • noun somebody who acts for or assists a sheriff

Military

  • noun a person authorized to act in support of or instead of another official

Politics

  • noun a person who takes the place of a higher official or who helps a higher official
  • noun a person who acts for or helps a sheriff
  • noun a member of a legislative body

Origin & History of “deputy”

A deputy is literally ‘someone who has been deputed to act on someone else’s behalf’. It represents a reformulation of the middle English noun depute. This was borrowed from the past participle of Old French deputer (source of the English verb depute (15th c.) and hence of deputation (16th c.)), which in turn came from late Latin dēputāre ‘assign, allot’. In classical times this meant literally ‘cut off’ (it was a compound verb formed from the prefix - ‘off’ and putāre, which meant ‘cut’ – as in amputate – as well as ‘esteem, consider, reckon, think’ – as in compute, dispute, impute, and repute).
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