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(both: prē`fĕkt), in ancient Rome, various military and civil officers. Under the empire some prefects were very important. The Praetorian prefects (first appointed 2 B.C.) usually numbered two; they commanded the powerful PraetoriansPraetorians
, bodyguard of the ancient Roman emperors. Growing out of an early troop that served as bodyguard to the general commanding in Rome, they were formally organized in the time of Augustus.
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. From the 2d cent. A.D. they had juridical functions, and important legists (e.g., Papinian and Ulpian) held the post. The prefect of the city was at first a deputy for absent consuls; the office fell out of use but was revived by Julius Caesar. Under the empire this prefect had power over the summary court for the region within 100 mi (160 km) of Rome. The prefect of the watch had charge of the fire brigade set up by Augustus. Augustus also established a prefect of the grain supply. There were other officers called prefects, such as the Roman viceroy of Egypt and many other officials of Italian cities.


See L. L. Howe, The Praetorian Prefect from Commodus to Diocletian (1942).



(1) In ancient Rome, an official who was in charge of a prefecture. From the time of Augustus at the end of the first century B.C., prefects were appointed as governors, first of Egypt and later of other provinces. During the imperial period, the term prefect was applied to the chiefs of various administrative departments. In the republican period, prefects with exclusively juridical functions (praefecti iuri dicundo) assisted the praetors in judging lawsuits in the cities of Italy, and under the empire, in the provinces also.

(2) In France, an official in charge of a department as a representative of the central government. Prefects are appointed by the president of France and are considered the heads of all state institutions within the given department. A prefect exercises broad powers; in particular, he has the right to protest individual acts of the local bodies of self-government and to abrogate resolutions of the department council. In Paris the administrative authority is divided between two prefects—the prefect of the department of the Seine and the prefect of police.


1. (in France, Italy, etc.) the chief administrative officer in a department
2. (in France, etc.) the head of a police force
3. Brit a schoolchild appointed to a position of limited power over his fellows
4. (in ancient Rome) any of several magistrates or military commanders
5. RC Church an official having jurisdiction over a missionary district that has no ordinary
6. RC Church one of two senior masters in a Jesuit school or college (the prefect of studies and the prefect of discipline or first prefect)
7. RC Church a cardinal in charge of a congregation of the Curia
References in periodicals archive ?
Como contexto y antecedente, se sostiene que en los ochenta se estructuro un federalismo prefectorial (11) expresado por el env o de delegados del gobierno federal como responsables territoriales de las pol ticas en los estados.
El modelo prefectorial fue autoritario, pero tuvo una coherencia y una racionalidad administrativa impecable.
Tambien, se sostiene que esta definicion de problema publico era funcional a las RIG's y al modelo Prefectorial de Miguel de la Madrid y Carlos Salinas y, que hasta cierto punto, le otorgo una razon adicional para que el modelo se extendiera en el tiempo.
Elazar, "Is Federalism Compatible with Prefectorial Administration;" Deil Wright and Chung-Lae Cho, "State Administration and Intergovernmental Interdependency: Do National Impacts or State Agencies Contribute to Organizational Turbulence?
The Prefectorial Board consists of 20 Prefects of which 13 have various positions while the school Student Council has a strength of 204 and together constitute the school parliament.
She added that the prefectorial board members were democratically elected by votes.
Muscat: Indian School Muscat organised the prestigious investiture ceremony of the Junior Prefectorial Council, the head boy, head girl and the four vice-captains of the Middle Section in the school's hall on May 5, 2014.