an assembly of persons summoned or convened for consultation, deliberation, or advice.
a body of persons specially designated or selected to act in an advisory, administrative, or legislative capacity: the governor's council on housing.
(in certain British colonies or dependencies) an executive or legislative body assisting the governor.
an ecclesiastical assembly for deciding matters of doctrine or discipline.
New Testament. the Sanhedrin or other authoritative body.

1125–75; Middle English co(u)nsile < Anglo-French cuncil(e), Old French concile < Late Latin concilium synod, church council (Latin: assembly), probably equivalent to Latin con- con- + -cil(āre), combining form of calāre to summon, convoke + -ium -ium; Middle English -s- by association with Anglo-French cunseil counsel

subcouncil, noun

1. board, bored, committee, council, panel, trust (see synonym study at trust) ; 2. consul, council, counsel (see usage note at the current entry).

Council, counsel, and consul are not interchangeable. Council is a noun. Its most common sense is “an assembly of persons convened for deliberation or the like.” It is generally used with a singular verb. A member of such a group is a councilor. Counsel is both noun and verb. Its most common meaning as a noun is “advice given to another”: His counsel on domestic relations is sound. A person giving such advice is a counselor. In law, counsel means “legal adviser or advisers” and can be either singular or plural. As a verb, counsel means “to advise.” The noun consul refers to the representative of a government who guards the welfare of its citizens in a foreign country. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
council (ˈkaʊnsəl)
1.  an assembly of people meeting for discussion, consultation, etc: an emergency council
2.  a body of people elected or appointed to serve in an administrative, legislative, or advisory capacity: a student council
3.  (Brit) (sometimes capital) the council the local governing authority of a town, county, etc
4.  a meeting or the deliberation of a council
5.  (modifier) of, relating to, provided for, or used by a local council: a council chamber; council offices
6.  (Brit) (modifier) provided by a local council, esp (of housing) at a subsidized rent: a council house; a council estate
7.  (Austral) an administrative or legislative assembly, esp the upper house of a state parliament in Australia
8.  Christianity an assembly of bishops, theologians, and other representatives of several churches or dioceses, convened for regulating matters of doctrine or discipline

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

early 12c., from Anglo-Norm. cuncile, from O.N.Fr. concilie, from L. concilium "group of people, meeting," from com- "together" + calare "to call" (see calendar). Tendency to confuse it in form and meaning with counsel has been consistent since 16c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Council definition

spoken of counsellors who sat in public trials with the governor of a province (Acts 25:12). The Jewish councils were the Sanhedrim, or supreme council of the nation, which had subordinate to it smaller tribunals (the "judgment," perhaps, in Matt. 5:21, 22) in the cities of Palestine (Matt. 10:17; Mark 13:9). In the time of Christ the functions of the Sanhedrim were limited (John 16:2; 2 Cor. 11:24). In Ps. 68:27 the word "council" means simply a company of persons. (R.V. marg., "company.") In ecclesiastical history the word is used to denote an assembly of pastors or bishops for the discussion and regulation of church affairs. The first of these councils was that of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, of which we have a detailed account in Acts 15.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in the Christian Church, a meeting of bishops and other leaders to consider and rule on questions of doctrine, administration, discipline, and other matters. An ecumenical or general council is a meeting of bishops of the whole church; local councils representing such areas as provinces or patriarchates are often called synods. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, a council is not ecumenical unless it has been called by the pope, and its decrees are not binding until they have been promulgated by the pope. Decrees so promulgated have the highest authority in the Roman Catholic Church.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Already its influence has spread into the secret council chamber, as well as
  into the laborer's cottage.
Both are former schoolteachers and county council officials.
The council tracks students from the region because of its geopolitical
It hired a lawyer to investigate placement-rate practices on all of its
  campuses and reported its discovery to the council.
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