American Dictionary of the English Language

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PRO'VOST, noun [Latin proepositus, placed before, from proepono; proe and pono, to set or place.] In a general sense, a person who is appointed to superintend or preside over something; the chief magistrate of a city or town; as the provost of Edinburgh or of Glasgow, answering to the mayor of other cities; the provost of a college, answering to president. In France, formerly, a provost was an inferior judge who had cognizance of civil causes.

The grand provost of France, or of the household, had jurisdiction in the king's house and over its officer.

The provost marshal of an army, is an officer appointed to arrest and secure deserters and other criminals, to hinder the soldiers from pillaging, to indict offenders and see sentence passed on them and executed. He also regulates weights and measures. He has under him a lieutenant and a clerk, an executioner, etc.

The provost marshal in the navy, has charge of prisoner, etc.

The provost of the mint, is a particular judge appointed to apprehend and prosecute false coiners.

Provost of the king's stables, is an officer who attends at court and holds the king's stirrup when he mounts his horse.