The Leader of a City

The Mayor Urban Dictionary

Just as a president leads the country and a governor leads a state, a mayor leads a city. In fact, the word mayor means “greater, superior.”

Mayors are executive heads of municipal government. They may be elected or appointed. They are often accompanied by a council executive committee. They also work with an administrative officer.


A mayor is the person who heads a city government, just like a president leads a country or governor leads a state. He or she must be elected to the position and serve for a fixed period of time. The word mayor is derived from the French maire, meaning greater or superior.

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The word mayor shares its etymology with the military rank of major. The title originally denoted the chief magistrate of a borough or town. It arose in England around 1190 as a replacement of portreeve, the title of which dated back to feudal lordship. The mayor of London is now elected by the city’s citizens, while the mayor of other boroughs and towns is appointed by the local council. In the older mayor-council system of municipal government, the mayor has a substantial leadership role, although in modern council-manager or committee systems where the mayor is only ceremonial, he or she is less important.

These examples have been programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word’mayor.’ As with all our examples, the opinions expressed do not reflect those of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors.


The mayor is the leader of a city or municipality. The mayor runs the city government and can make laws that help the town run smoothly. The mayor is usually elected by the city’s citizens.

The duties of a mayor can vary from country to country. In some countries, the mayor is just a ceremonial figurehead while in others the position is very powerful. The powers that the mayor has depend on the form of municipal governance in place. In the mayor-council form of governance, the mayor has a much larger role than in the council-manager or committee system of governance where the municipal manager and local council’s executive committees provide day-to-day leadership and the mayor is more of an administrative and ceremonial figurehead.

In the United States, the mayor is sometimes referred to as the “city boss” or “chief executive officer.” The mayor’s office helps to run city departments like police and sanitation. Mayors also enforce laws and ordinances that are passed by city council or mandated by a state, territory or national governing body.


The mayor of a city leads the government of that city. This position is elected, and like a president leads a country or governor leads a state, this person is the highest-ranking politician in the town or city. In cities that have a mayor-council form of municipal government, the mayor often fulfills several roles such as chief executive officer and ceremonial figurehead. In other types of municipalities, such as council-manager systems and committee system forms, the mayor may have a much more reduced role that is largely ceremonial in nature.

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word’mayor.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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