a. An assembly of persons called together for consultation, deliberation, or discussion.
b. A body of people elected or appointed to serve as administrators, legislators, or advisers.
c. An assembly of church officials and theologians convened for regulating matters of doctrine and discipline.
2. The discussion or deliberation that takes place in such an assembly or body.
[Middle English counceil, from Old French concile, from Latin concilium; see kelə-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Council, counsel, and consul are never interchangeable, though their meanings are related. Council and councilor refer principally to a deliberative assembly (such as a city council or student council), its work, and its membership. Counsel and counselor pertain chiefly to advice and guidance in general and to a person (such as a lawyer or camp counselor) who provides it. Consul denotes an officer in the foreign service of a country.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus