[kon-stuh-buhl or, esp. British, kuhn-]
an officer of the peace, having police and minor judicial functions, usually in a small town, rural district, etc.
Chiefly British. a police officer.
an officer of high rank in medieval monarchies, usually the commander of all armed forces, especially in the absence of the ruler.
the keeper or governor of a royal fortress or castle.

1200–50; Middle English conestable < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin comes stabulī count2 of the stable1

constableship, noun
underconstable, noun Unabridged


[kuhn-stuh-buhl, kon-]
John, 1776–1837, English painter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To constable
World English Dictionary
constable (ˈkʌnstəbəl, ˌkɒn-)
1.  (in Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc) a police officer of the lowest rank
2.  any of various officers of the peace, esp one who arrests offenders, serves writs, etc
3.  the keeper or governor of a royal castle or fortress
4.  (in medieval Europe) the chief military officer and functionary of a royal household, esp in France and England
5.  an officer of a hundred in medieval England, originally responsible for raising the military levy but later assigned other administrative duties
[C13: from Old French, from Late Latin comes stabulī officer in charge of the stable, from Latin comes comrade + stabulum dwelling, stable; see also count²]

Constable (ˈkʌnstəbəl)
John. 1776--1837, English landscape painter, noted particularly for his skill in rendering atmospheric effects of changing light

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1200, from O.Fr. conestable, principal officer of the Frankish king's household, from L.L. comes stabuli, lit. "count of the stable" (established by Theodosian Code, c.438 C.E.), hence, "chief groom." Probably a translation of a Gmc. word. Meaning "an officer of the peace" is from c.1600, transferred
to "police officer" 1836.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


officer of state in western European countries from medieval times and also of certain executive legal officials in Great Britain and the United States. The title comes stabuli is found in the Roman and particularly in the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire from the 5th century AD as that of the head of the stables at the imperial court. The Franks borrowed the title, and under the Merovingian and Carolingian kings of western Europe the comes stabuli was in charge of the royal stud, with the marshal (marescallus) as his subordinate officer. In the 11th century the constable (connetable) of France became one of the five great officers of state, with limited powers of jurisdiction and with command of the cavalry. The constable's military duties and judicial powers increased until, by the mid-14th century, he held supreme military command of the army. After the treason of the constable Charles de Bourbon (1523), however, the kings distrusted the power of the office, and for many years in the 16th century it was allowed to remain vacant. It was eliminated in 1627, after the death of Francois de Bonne, Duke de Lesdiguieres, but was revived by Napoleon I, who appointed his brother Louis Bonaparte grand constable. It was finally abolished upon the restoration of the Bourbons.

Learn more about constable with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Any other police constable shall serve at the pleasure of the township trustees.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature