One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The governor of a Spanish province, acting as the chief civil and judicial authority, and as military commander-in-chief in time of war; (also) a military leader with the authority to explore, colonize, and govern new territories for the Spanish crown.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Robert Parke (fl. 1588–1589), translator. From Spanish adelantado governor, use as noun (after Arabic muqaddam: see below) of the past participle of adelantar to advance, promote from adelante before, forward from ad to, at + el the + ante before.
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