Definition of provost in English:



  • 1North American A senior administrative officer in certain colleges and universities.

    • ‘White women provosts at leading research universities, including Ivy League institutions, are not rarities these days.’
    • ‘A provost at a third college commented at the start of the year about how the success of a particular initiative depended on faculty input.’
    • ‘He would like those policies to be reviewed by the colleges, provost and university president.’
    • ‘Our colleges and universities need deans, provosts and presidents who support and promote psychological science.’
    • ‘Each year, I meet with the president, the provost and the deans' council to determine priorities for the next fiscal year.’
    1. 1.1British The head of certain university colleges, especially at Oxford or Cambridge, and public schools.
      • ‘He was appointed provost of Queen's College, Oxford in 1962, and chancellor of the Australian National University, Canberra, positions he held until his death.’
      • ‘The Royal Hospital at Kilmainham and Trinity College, as well as guilds, schools and the City Corporation, commissioned portraits of their boards, provosts and masters (as well as royal portraits to underline their loyalty).’
  • 2The head of a chapter in a cathedral.

    • ‘A provost is the head of the cathedral chapter in a number of the Church of England's more recently created dioceses in which the cathedral is also a parish church and the provost is the incumbent.’
    • ‘Rev Paul Harvie, the priest at St Salvador Episcopal Church in Dundee, where unhappy members of St Paul's Cathedral fled after fallouts with provost Miriam Byrne, agrees that baptisms carried out by Ms Byrne may not be valid.’
    • ‘I had the good fortune to discover this in my own ministry, partly because I was constantly acting in a diaconal role to my bishop as his director of ordination candidates or as the provost of his cathedral.’
    • ‘Likewise, Benvoglienti, a provost in Siena Cathedral who was attentive to ceremonial detail, commented on ritual usage of the Strada Romana on more than one occasion in De urbis Senae.’
    • ‘Bruno, provost of the diocese's Cathedral Center of St. Paul, will replace current Bishop Frederick Borsch, 64, when he retires at an unspecified future date.’
    1. 2.1The Protestant minister of the principal church of a town or district in Germany and certain other European countries.
      • ‘Binchois retired to Soignies in 1452 and there became provost of the collegiate church of St Vincent.’
    2. 2.2historical The head of a Christian community.
  • 3

    short for provost marshal
  • 4

    Scottish term for mayor
    • ‘SNP insiders fear that the anti-Labour vote will be split between them, the Conservatives and ex-Glasgow provost Pat Lally.’
    • ‘A defection from Labour ranks to the Scottish Socialist Party in Renfrewshire a month ago means that Labour can only win votes with the casting vote of the provost.’
    • ‘The local mayor or provost should host a citizenship ceremony - as proposed in the NIA Act - which would be ‘something memorable to citizens both old and new’.’
    • ‘Catharine Scott, associate provost and the chair of the new committee, said ‘We see ourselves as an educating force.’’
    • ‘Then, just a day later, the peace walkers were again being officially fêted, this time at Glasgow's City Chambers, where deputy provost Jean Macey laid on food and tea for the activists, many of whom had only just been released.’
  • 5historical The chief magistrate of a French or other European town.


Late Old English profost head of a chapter, prior reinforced in Middle English by Anglo-Norman French provost, from medieval Latin propositus, synonym of Latin praepositus head, chief.