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An official is someone who holds an office (function or
mandate Mandate most often refers to: * League of Nations mandates, quasi-colonial territories established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 June 1919 * Mandate (politics), the power granted by an electorate Mandate may also r ...
, regardless whether it carries an actual
working space
working space
with it) in an
organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsu ...

organization
or government and participates in the exercise of
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...

authority
, (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally private). An elected official is a person who is an official by virtue of an
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative dem ...

election
. Officials may also be appointed ''
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term ''ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) ...
'' (by virtue of another office, often in a specified capacity, such as presiding, advisory, secretary). Some official positions may be
inherited
inherited
. A person who currently holds an office is referred to as an
incumbent The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human activity), work in order to support and realize objects an ...
. Something "official" refers to something endowed with governmental or other authoritative recognition or mandate, as in
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
,
official gazette A government gazette (also known as an official gazette, official journal, official newspaper, official monitor or official bulletin) is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a ca ...
, or
official scorer In the game of baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two opposing teams, in which the action starts when the defe ...
. The word ''official'' as a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
has been recorded since the
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
period, first seen in 1314. It comes from the
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
''official'' (12th century), from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''officialis'' ("attendant to a magistrate, government official"), the noun use of the original
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
''officialis'' ("of or belonging to duty, service, or office") from ''officium'' ("office"). The meaning "person in charge of some public work or duty" was first recorded in 1555. The adjective is first attested in English in 1533 via the Old French '. The informal term ''officialese'', the jargon of "officialdom", was first recorded in 1884.


Roman antiquity

An ''officialis'' (
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
''officiales'') was the official term (somewhat comparable to a modern civil servant) for any member of the officium (staff) of a high dignitary such as a governor.


Ecclesiastical judiciary

In
Canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
, the word or its Latin original ''officialis'' is used absolutely as the legal title of a diocesan bishop's
judicial vicar In the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma ...
who shares the bishop's
ordinary Ordinary or The Ordinary often refer to: Music * Ordinary (EP), ''Ordinary'' (EP) (2015), by South Korean group Beast * Ordinary (Every Little Thing album), ''Ordinary'' (Every Little Thing album) (2011) * Ordinary (Two Door Cinema Club song), "O ...
judicial power over the diocese and presides over the diocesan
ecclesiastical court An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized commu ...
. The 1983 Code of Canon Law gives precedence to the title
Judicial Vicar In the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma ...
, rather than that of Officialis (canon 1420). The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches uses only the title Judicial Vicar (canon 191). In German, the related noun ''Offizialat'' was also used for an official bureau in a diocese that did much of its administration, comprising the vicariate-general, an adjoined secretariat, a registry office and a chancery. In Catholicism, the vicar-general was originally called the "official" (''officialis''). The title of official principal, together with that of
vicar-general A vicar general (previously, archdeacon An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the , , , , , and some other s, above that of most and below a . In the it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the . An archdeacon is ...
, has in Anglicanism been merged in that of
Diocesan chancellor In church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted ...
of a diocese.


Sports

In
sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. ...

sports
, the term official is used to describe a person enforcing playing
rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and ...
in the capacity of a linesman,
referee A referee is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the ex ...

referee
and
umpire An umpire is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the exe ...
; also specified by the discipline, e.g.
American football official In gridiron football, an official is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game. During professional and most college football games, seven officials operate on the field. Since 2015, Division I ...
,
ice hockey official In ice hockey, an official is a person who has some responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game. There are two categories of officials, ''on-ice officials'', who are the referees and linesmen that enforce the rules ...
. An official competition is created or recognized as valid by the competent body, is agreed to or arranged by people in positions of authority. Is synonymous, among others, with approved, certified, recognized, endorsed, legitimate.


Other

The term ''officer'' is close to being a synonym (but has more military
connotation A connotation is a commonly understood cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which o ...
s). A functionary is someone who carries out a particular role within an organization; this again is quite a close synonym for ''official'', as a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
, but with connotations closer to
bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of ...

bureaucrat
. Any such person acts in their official capacity, in carrying out the duties of their office; they are also said to officiate, for example in a
ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious ...

ceremony
. A public official is an official of central or local
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
.


Max Weber on bureaucratic officials

Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
gave as definition of a bureaucratic official: *they are personally free and appointed to their position on the basis of conduct *he exercises the authority delegated to them in accordance with impersonal rules, and their loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of their official duties *their appointment and job placement are dependent upon their technical qualifications *their administrative work is a full-time occupation *their work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career. An official must exercise their judgment and their skills, but their duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority; ultimately they are responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice their personal judgment if it runs counter to their official duties.


Adjective

As an
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
, "official" often, but not always, means pertaining to the government, as state employee or having state recognition, or analogous to governance or to a formal (especially legally regulated) proceeding as opposed to informal business. In summary that has authenticity emanates from an authority. Some examples: *An ''official holiday'' is a
public holiday A public holiday, national holiday, or legal holiday is a holiday A holiday is a day set aside by custom Custom may refer to: Sense: Customary * Convention (norm), a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted rules, norms, standards or ...
, having national (or regional) recognition. *An
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
is a language recognised by a government, for its own use in administration, or for delivering services to its citizens (for example, on
signpost Traffic signs or road signs are signs erected at the side of or above road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or tw ...

signpost
s). *An ''official spokesperson'' is an individual empowered to speak for the government, or some part of it such as a
ministry Ministry may refer to: Government * Ministry (collective executive) In constitutional usage in Commonwealth realms, a ministry (usually preceded by the definite article, i.e., the ministry) is a collective body of government minister (gover ...
, on a range of issues and on the record for the
media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication) In mass communication, media are the communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, It ...
. *An ''official statement'' is an issued by an organisation as an expression of its corporate position or opinion; an ''official apology'' is an apology similarly issued by an organisation (as opposed to an apology by an individual). *''Official policy'' is policy publicly acknowledged and defended by an organisation. In these cases ''unofficial'' is an antonym, and variously may mean informal, unrecognised, personal or unacknowledged. *An ''official strike'' is a
strike Strike may refer to: People *Strike (surname)Strike is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: *Alice Strike (1896–2004), last surviving female Canadian military World War I veteran *Anne Wafula Strike (born 1969), British wheelcha ...
organised and recognised by a
labour union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native ...
, as opposed to an ''unofficial strike'' at grassroots level. *An ''official school'' is a
school A school is an educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childcare, primary-elementary schools, secondary-high schools, and universities. They p ...

school
administered by the government or by a local authority, as opposite to a
private school Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United ...
or
religious school A religious school is a school A school is an designed to provide s and s for the teaching of s under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal , which is sometimes . In these systems, students progress through a ...
. *An ''
official history An official history is a work of history which is sponsored, authorised or endorsed by its subject. The term is most commonly used for histories which are produced for a government. The term also applies to commissions from non-state bodies includin ...
'', for example of an institution or business, or particularly of a
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

war
or
military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an int ...
, is a history written as a commission, with the assumption of co-operation with access to records and archives; but without necessarily full
editorial independence Editorial independence is the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is as ...
. *An ''official biography'' is usually on the same lines, written with access to private papers and the support of the family of the subject.


See also

*
Bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of ...

Bureaucrat
*
Canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form, a natural unique representation of an object, or a preferred notation for some object Mathematics * Canonical coordinates, sets of coordinates that can be used to describe a physic ...

Canonical
*
Civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
*
Politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some ...

Politician
*
Title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...

Title


References


Further reading

* * {{Authority control Ecclesiastical titles Positions of authority