1. A dignitary or presiding officer in certain ecclesiastical and lay bodies; especially, an ecclesiastical dignitary, subordinate to a bishop. Dean of cathedral church, the chief officer of a chapter; he is an ecclesiastical magistrate next in degree to bishop, and has immediate charge of the cathedral and its estates. Dean of peculiars, a dean holding a preferment which has some peculiarity relative to spiritual superiors and the jurisdiction exercised in it. Rural dean, one having, under the bishop, the especial care and inspection of the clergy within certain parishes or districts of the diocese.
5. The chief or senior of a company on occasion of ceremony; as, the dean of the diplomatic corps; so called by courtesy. Cardinal dean, the senior cardinal bishop of the college of cardinals at Rome. Dean and chapter, the legal corporation and governing body of a cathedral. It consists of the dean, who is chief, and his canons or prebendaries. Dean of arches, the lay judge of the court of arches. Dean of faculty, the president of an incorporation or barristers; specifically, the president of the incorporation of advocates in Edinburgh. Dean of guild, a magistrate of Scotch burghs, formerly, and still, in some burghs, chosen by the Guildry, whose duty is to superintend the erection of new buildings and see that they conform to the law. Dean of a monastery, Monastic dean, a monastic superior over ten monks. Dean's stall. See Decanal stall, under Decanal.
Origin: oe. Dene, deene, OF. Deien, dien, f. Doyen, eldest of a corporation, a dean, L. Decanus the chief of ten, one set over ten persons, e. G, over soldiers or over monks, from decem ten. See ten, and cf. Decemvir.