a. An administrative officer in charge of a college, faculty, or division in a university.
b. An officer of a college or high school who counsels students and supervises the enforcement of rules.
2. Ecclesiastical The head of the chapter of canons governing a cathedral or collegiate church.
3. Roman Catholic Church A priest appointed to oversee a group of parishes within a diocese.
4. The senior member of a body or group: the dean of the Washington diplomatic corps.
[Middle English deen, from Old French deien, from Late Latin decānus, chief of ten, from decem, ten, or from Greek dekānos, chief of ten (from deka, ten); see dek in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.