There are 2 definitions of dean in English:


Line breaks: dean
Pronunciation: /diːn


  • 1The head of the chapter of a cathedral or collegiate church.
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    • The statutes governing most English cathedrals give the dean and chapter together a considerable degree of independence from episcopal control.
    • Now the dean and chapter of the cathedral has withdrawn its backing, after strong objections by residents.
    • The plans are being led by the church's vicar, Canon Derek Jackson, a former dean of Bradford Cathedral.
  • 1.1 (also rural dean, area dean) British A member of the clergy exercising supervision over a group of parochial clergy within a division of an archdeaconry.
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    • St David's was built for the Rev Gilbert Holmes, the Protestant dean of Ardfert and a member of the prominent local Holmes family, who had arrived in 1728.
    • There are other important people in the diocese who have to be there too, such as the archdeacons and rural deans.
    • The rural dean is appointed by the bishop to act as a channel of communication between himself and the clergy of the parishes which make up his deanery.
  • 2The head of a university faculty or department or of a medical school.
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    • The revenue from those patents goes both to the two inventors and to their universities' deans, department chiefs, and many others.
    • Gordon was also a major figure in university life, serving two terms as dean of the medical faculty, one term as vice principal, and on many committees.
    • As to the first event, the letter from the President of the University seeks from its deans and department heads a statement of vision for their respective schools and departments.
    faculty head, department head, head of faculty, head of department, college head, provost, university official; head, chief, director, leader, principal, president, governor
  • 2.1(In a college or university, especially Oxford or Cambridge) a senior member of a college, with disciplinary and advisory functions.
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    • His sister's married to the son of a head dean at Oxford University.
    • The college dean subsequently emailed students expressing his great alarm at their dangerous actions.
    • Bill Michael is the university's assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of the college.


Middle English: from Old French deien, from late Latin decanus 'chief of a group of ten', from decem 'ten'. Compare with doyen.

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