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a member of a municipal legislative body, especially of a municipal council.
(in England) one of the members, chosen by the elected councilors, in a borough or county council.
Early English History.

a chief.
(later) the chief magistrate of a county or group of counties.

Northern U.S. Slang. a pot belly.
Contemporary Examples

Rick Munoz, alderman of the 22nd Ward and an active Latino Caucus member, has called Emanuel a “political bully.”
Rahm vs. the Left Adam Doster October 4, 2010

A New York alderman once said Petrosino “knocked out more teeth than a dentist.”
Who Really Murdered Joe Petrosino? Barbie Latza Nadeau June 23, 2014

William Singer, a former Chicago alderman, can vividly recall anti-Semitic taunts during his bid for mayor in 1975.
Rahm’s Toughest Hurdle Dirk Johnson October 1, 2010

Antonio French, a citizen journalist and alderman of the 21st ward in St. Louis, was also detained.
Embarrassment, Fear, and Anger: Ferguson’s Emotional Whispers Melissa Leon August 13, 2014

Dirk Johnson on the real winners—including an alderman rooting for a weak mayor.
Rahm’s Pain, Whose Gain? Dirk Johnson January 23, 2011

Historical Examples

“Mr. Waterbury is a gentleman of veracity,” said alderman Morris sharply.
The Young Adventurer Horatio Alger

“Thou art a good-hearted lad,” said the alderman with a hand on his shoulder.
The Armourer’s Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge

As elsewhere, the presidency was assigned to an alderman and twelve councillors.
The Hansa Towns Helen Zimmern

Now, when the alderman saw that strange round thing at his threshold he was afraid.
Johnny Bear E. T. Seton

It was endowed in 1895, partly from certain moneys left by alderman Dauntsey who flourished in the fifteenth century.
Wanderings in Wessex Edric Holmes

noun (pl) -men
(in England and Wales until 1974) one of the senior members of a local council, elected by other councillors
(in the US, Canada, Australia, etc) a member of the governing body of a municipality
(history) a variant spelling of ealdorman

Old English aldormonn (Mercian), ealdormann (West Saxon) “ruler, prince, chief; chief officer of a shire,” from aldor, ealder “patriarch” (comparative of ald “old;” see old) + monn, mann “man” (see man (n.)). A relic of the days when the elders were automatically in charge of the clan or tribe, but already in Old English used for king’s viceroys, regardless of age. The word yielded in Old English to eorl, and after the Norman Conquest to count (n.). Meaning “headman of a guild” (early 12c.) passed to “magistrate of a city” (c.1200) as the guilds became identified with municipal government.
alderman [(awl-duhr-muhn)]

A member of a city council. Aldermen usually represent city districts, called wards, and work with the mayor to run the city government. Jockeying among aldermen for political influence is often associated with machine politics.


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