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Pre"fect (?), n. [L. praefectus, fr. praefectus, p. p. of praeficere to set over; prae before + facere to make: cf. F. préfet.] 1. A Roman officer who controlled or superintended a particular command, charge, department, etc.; as, the prefect of the aqueducts; the prefect of a camp, of a fleet, of the city guard, of provisions; the pretorian prefect, who was commander of the troops guarding the emperor's person.
2. A superintendent of a department who has control of its police establishment, together with extensive powers of municipal regulation. [France] Brande & C.
3. In the Greek and Roman Catholic churches, a title of certain dignitaries below the rank of bishop.
Apostolic prefect (R. C. Ch.), the head of a mission, not of episcopal rank. Shipley.