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[poh-des-tuh, poh-duh-stah] /poʊˈdɛs tə, ˌpoʊ dəˈstɑ/
any of certain magistrates in Italy, as a chief magistrate in medieval towns and republics.
a person appointed to serve as mayor of an Italian city during the Fascist regime.
Origin of podesta
1540-50; < Italian podestà power < Latin potestās power, command Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for podesta
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The podesta had chosen Greek Fire because it was strange, hinted of magic—maligno.

  • I put the Magazine in my coat-pocket, and left him and the podesta.

    Burlesques William Makepeace Thackeray
  • On one side of the nave stood the podesta, d'Ucello, surrounded by a group of his sergentes in yellow and blue.

  • And, in return, you demand our assent to your enjoying the rank of podesta for five years?

    Rienzi Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • Daoud tried to read d'Ucello's round, swarthy face, but he could not tell whether the podesta was relieved or angry.

British Dictionary definitions for podesta


/pɒˈdɛstə; Italian podeˈsta/
(in modern Italy) a subordinate magistrate in some towns
(in Fascist Italy) the chief magistrate of a commune
(in medieval Italy)
  1. any of the governors of the Lombard cities appointed by Frederick Barbarossa
  2. a chief magistrate in any of various republics, such as Florence
Word Origin
C16: from Italian: power, from Latin potestās ability, power, from posse to be able
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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