1590s, "office of a president," also "superintendence, direction," from Medieval Latin praesidentia "office of a president" (mid-13c.), from Latin praesidentem (nominative praesidens) "president, governor" (see president). Earlier was presidentship (1520s), presidence (c. 1500). Meaning "a president's term in office" is from 1610s. In British India, a chief administrative division.