American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A peace officer with less authority and smaller jurisdiction than a sheriff, empowered to serve writs and warrants and make arrests.
- n. A medieval officer of high rank, usually serving as military commander in the absence of a monarch.
- n. The governor of a royal castle.
- n. Chiefly British A police officer.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An officer of high rank in several of the medieval monarchies. The Lord High Constable of England was the seventh officer of the crown. He had the care of the common peace in deeds of arms and matters of war, being a judge of the court of chivalry, or court of honor. To this officer, and to the earl marshal, belonged the cognizance of contracts touching deeds of arms without the realm, and combats and blazonry within the realm. His power was so great, and was often used to such improper ends, that it was abridged by the 13th Richard II., and was afterward forfeited in the person of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Henry VIII. It has never been granted to any person since that time, except on a particular occasion. The office of Lord High Constable of Scotland is one of great antiquity and dignity. He had formerly the command of the king's armies while in the field, in the absence of the king. He was likewise judge of all crimes or offenses committed within four miles of the king's person, or within the same distance of the parliament or of the privy council, or of any general convention of the states of the kingdom. The office has been hereditary since 1314 in the family of Hay, earls of Erroll, and is expressly reserved in the treaty of union. The Constable of France was the first officer of the kings of France, and ultimately became commander-in-chief of the army and the highest judge in all questions of chivalry and honor. This office was suppressed in 1627. Napoleon reëstablished it during a few years, in favor of his brother Louis Bonaparte. The constable of a castle was the keeper or governor of a castle belonging to the king or a great noble. This office was often hereditary; thus, there were constables or hereditary keepers of the Tower, of Normandy, and of the castles of Windsor, Dover, etc.
- n. An officer chosen to aid in keeping the peace, and to serve legal process in cases of minor importance. In England constables of hundreds, or high constables (now in many districts called
chief constables), are appointed either at quarter-sessions or by the justices of the hundred out of sessions; petty constables, or constables of vills or tithings, are annually sworn into the office at quarter-sessions for each parish, upon presentment of the vestry, and are subordinate to the high or chief constables. In the United States the constable is an official of a town or village, elected with the other local officers, or, as a special constable, acting under a temporary appointment. The constable was formerly of much more consequence both in England and the colonies, being the chief executive officer of the parish or town.
- n. To live beyond one's means. In this latter sense also overrun the constable.
- n. The commander of a constabulary or company of men-at-arms.
- n. UK, New Zealand A police officer ranking below sergeant in most British/New Zealand police forces. (See also Chief Constable).
- n. Officer of a noble court in the middle ages, usually a senior army commander. (See also marshal).
- n. US Public officer, usually at municipal level, responsible for maintaining order or serving writs and court orders.
- n. A elected head of a parish (also known as a connétable)
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A high officer in the monarchical establishments of the Middle Ages.
- n. (Law) An officer of the peace having power as a conservator of the public peace, and bound to execute the warrants of judicial officers.
- n. English landscape painter (1776-1837)
- n. a police officer of the lowest rank
- n. a lawman with less authority and jurisdiction than a sheriff
- Old French conestable ( > French connétable), from Latin comes stabulī ("officer of the stables"). For the sense-development, compare marshall. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old French conestable, from Late Latin comes stabulī, officer of the stable : Latin comes, officer, companion; see ei- in Indo-European roots + Latin stabulī, genitive of stabulum, stable; see stā- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“One of the things I have found a bit depressing about being a constable is the realisation that money and an expensive education is no guarantee of good manners and common sense.”
““Should I call a constable?” the housekeeper asked.”
“As it happens, Chabot's new constable is Silas Jones, a former high-school friend of Ott's now returned to his old stomping grounds.”
“Likewise if a lowly constable is failing he too is moved on.”
“A constable is the servant of the people, and it is not his place to mete out summary punishment to those whom he decides have failed to accord him the respect he feels he deserves.”
“Then let us call a constable to ask the same question.”
“Will you go along quietly or shall I call a constable?”
“As a matter of fact, she usually finds that the ordinary constable is quite adequate for all her requirements in the protective line.”
“Then they called a constable, and after half an hour the sensational fact of the unconscious watchman and the rifled strong-room became revealed.”
“The Irish constable is a well-educated man, on whom every reliance can be placed as to the way in which he will act in the case of emergency.”
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