late 14c., "governor or military commander of an ancient Roman province," having there most of the duties and authorities of a consul in Rome, from Latin proconsul "governor of a province; military commander," from phrase pro consule "(acting) in place of a consul," from pro "in place of" (see pro-) + ablative of consul. In modern use usually rhetorical, but it was a title of certain commissioners in the French Revolution, was used in English for "deputy consul," and was used again of U.S. administrators in Iraq during the early 21c. occupation. Related: Proconsular; proconsulate; proconsulship.
updated on November 22, 2020