c.1350, from O.Fr. prefect
(12c.), from L. præfectus
"public overseer, director," prop. pp. of præficere
"to put in front, to set over, put in authority," from præ-
"in front, before" + root of facere
) "to perform" (see factitious
). Spelling restored from M.E. prefet.
Meaning "administrative head of the Paris police" is from 1827; meaning "senior pupil designated to keep order in an Eng. school" is from 1865. Prefecture
"administrative district of a prefect" is recorded from 1577.