functionary

A functionary is someone who fills a specific role in a political party or some other organization. We tend to picture them as people in gray suits who follow the boss's orders and don't think for themselves.

The origins of this word go back to the French Revolution, and specifically Napoleon. After conquering most of Europe, Napoleon needed lots of people to help carry out all the functions, or duties, of his huge, centralized state. To build an empire you need soldiers; to run an empire you need office workers. These desk knights, if you will, were called fonctionnaires.

Definitions of functionary
1

n a worker who holds or is invested with an office

Synonyms:
official
Examples:
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Ralph Johnson Bunche
United States diplomat and United Nations official (1904-1971)
Warren Earl Burger
United States jurist appointed chief justice of the United States Supreme Court by Richard Nixon (1907-1995)
Salmon Portland Chase
United States politician and jurist who served as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1808-1873)
John Foster Dulles
United States diplomat who (as Secretary of State) pursued a policy of opposition to the USSR by providing aid to American allies (1888-1959)
Oliver Ellsworth
United States jurist and the third chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1745-1807)
Melville Weston Fuller
United States jurist and chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1833-1910)
John Kenneth Galbraith
United States economist (born in Canada) who served as ambassador to India (born in 1908)
Edmund Charles Edouard Genet
French diplomat who in 1793 tried to draw the United States into the war between France and England (1763-1834)
Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko
Soviet ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations (1909-1989)
Huig de Groot
Dutch jurist and diplomat whose writings established the basis of modern international law (1583-1645)
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold
Swedish diplomat who greatly extended the influence of the United Nations in peacekeeping matters (1905-1961)
William Averell Harriman
United States financier who negotiated a treaty with the Soviet Union banning tests of nuclear weapons (1891-1986)
Townsend Harris
United States diplomat who was instrumental in opening Japan to foreign trade (1804-1878)
Charles Evans Hughes
United States jurist who served as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1862-1948)
Cordell Hull
United States diplomat who did the groundwork for creating the United Nations (1871-1955)
John Jay
United States diplomat and jurist who negotiated peace treaties with Britain and served as the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1745-1829)
Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros
prelate who was the confessor of Isabella I and who was later appointed Grand Inquisitor (1436-1517)
Henry Alfred Kissinger
United States diplomat who served under President Nixon and President Ford (born in 1923)
Le Duc Tho
Vietnamese diplomat who negotiated with Henry Kissinger to end the war in Vietnam (1911-1990)
Vicomte Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps
French diplomat who supervised the construction of the Suez Canal (1805-1894)
Trygve Halvden Lie
Norwegian diplomat who was the first Secretary General of the United Nations (1896-1968)
John Marshall
United States jurist; as chief justice of the Supreme Court he established the principles of United States constitutional law (1755-1835)
Sir Harold George Nicolson
English diplomat and author (1886-1968)
Thomas Nelson Page
United States diplomat and writer about the Old South (1853-1922)
William Hubbs Rehnquist
United States jurist who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1972 until 1986, when he was appointed chief justice (born in 1924)
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
wife of Franklin Roosevelt and a strong advocate of human rights (1884-1962)
John Rutledge
United States jurist and second chief justice of the United States Supreme Court; he was appointed by George Washington and briefly served as chief justice but was ultimately rejected by the United States Senate (1739-1800)
Samson
(Old Testament) a judge of Israel who performed herculean feats of strength against the Philistines until he was betrayed to them by his mistress Delilah
Adlai Ewing Stevenson
United States politician and diplomat (1900-1968)
Harlan Fisk Stone
United States jurist who was named chief justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1941 by Franklin D. Roosevelt (1872-1946)
William Howard Taft
27th President of the United States and later chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1857-1930)
Roger Brooke Taney
United States jurist who served as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court; remembered for his ruling that slaves and their descendants have no rights as citizens (1777-1864)
Tomas de Torquemada
the Spaniard who as Grand Inquisitor was responsible for the death of thousands of Jews and suspected witches during the Spanish Inquisition (1420-1498)
Frederick Moore Vinson
United States jurist who served as chief justice of the Supreme Court (1890-1953)
Morrison Remick Waite
United States jurist who was appointed chief justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1874 by President Grant (1816-1888)
Kurt Waldheim
Austrian diplomat who was Secretary General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981; in 1986 he was elected president of Austria in spite of worldwide allegations that he had direct knowledge of Nazi atrocities during World War II (born in 1918)
Earl Warren
United States jurist who served as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1891-1974)
Edward Douglas White Jr.
United States jurist appointed chief justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1910 by President Taft; noted for his work on antitrust legislation (1845-1921)
Types:
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apparatchik
a humorous but derogatory term for an official of a large organization (especially a political organization)
appointee
an official who is appointed
bailiff
an officer of the court who is employed to execute writs and processes and make arrests etc.
beadle
a minor parish official who serves a ceremonial function
administrative official, bureaucrat
an official of a bureaucracy
caretaker
an official who performs the duties of an office temporarily
censor
a person who is authorized to read publications or correspondence or to watch theatrical performances and suppress in whole or in part anything considered obscene or politically unacceptable
census taker, enumerator
someone who collects census data by visiting individual homes
church officer
a church official
city father
an important municipal official
civil servant
a public official who is a member of the civil service
commissar, political commissar
an official of the Communist Party who was assigned to teach party principles to a military unit
Comptroller General
a United States federal official who supervises expenditures and settles claims against the government
Comptroller of the Currency
a United States federal official who regulates the national banks
diplomat, diplomatist
an official engaged in international negotiations
elected official
official who won the office in a free election
equerry
an official charged with the care of the horses of princes or nobles
fire marshall
an official who is responsible for the prevention and investigation of fires
fire warden, forest fire fighter, ranger
an official who is responsible for managing and protecting an area of forest
hearing examiner, hearing officer
an official appointed by a government agency to conduct an investigation or administrative hearing so that the agency can exercise its statutory powers
hangover, holdover
an official who remains in office after his term
incumbent, officeholder
the official who holds an office
Inquisitor
an official of the ecclesiastical court of the Inquisition
invalidator, nullifier, voider
an official who can invalidate or nullify
judge, jurist, justice
a public official authorized to decide questions brought before a court of justice
licenser
an official who can issue a license or give authoritative permission (especially one who licenses publications)
mace, macebearer, macer
an official who carries a mace of office
mandarin
any high government official or bureaucrat
notary, notary public
someone legally empowered to witness signatures and certify a document's validity and to take depositions
noticer
someone who gives formal notice
officeholder, officer
someone who is appointed or elected to an office and who holds a position of trust
agent, federal agent
any agent or representative of a federal agency or bureau
provincial
(Roman Catholic Church) an official in charge of an ecclesiastical province acting under the superior general of a religious order
postmaster general
the official in charge of the national postal service
proconsul
an official in a modern colony who has considerable administrative power
prosecuting attorney, prosecuting officer, prosecutor, public prosecutor
a government official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state
quaestor
any of several public officials of ancient Rome (usually in charge of finance and administration)
recruiter
an official who enlists personnel for military service
record-keeper, recorder, registrar
someone responsible for keeping records
regulator
an official responsible for control and supervision of a particular activity or area of public interest
returning officer
the official in each electorate who holds the election and returns the results
sealer
an official who affixes a seal to a document
searcher
a customs official whose job is to search baggage or goods or vehicles for contraband or dutiable items
teller, vote counter
an official appointed to count the votes (especially in legislative assembly)
town clerk
the official who keeps a town's records
doorkeeper, usher
an official stationed at the entrance of a courtroom or legislative chamber
vizier
a high official in a Muslim government (especially in the Ottoman Empire)
weigher
an official who weighs and records the weight
alcalde
a mayor or chief magistrate of a Spanish town
ambassador, embassador
a diplomat of the highest rank; accredited as representative from one country to another
bean counter
an accountant or bureaucrat who is believed to place undue emphasis on the control of expenditures
canvasser
a person who takes or counts votes
charge d'affaires
the official temporarily in charge of a diplomatic mission in the absence of the ambassador
chief justice
the judge who presides over a supreme court
churchwarden
an officer in the Episcopal church who helps a parish priest with secular matters
consul
a diplomat appointed by a government to protect its commercial interests and help its citizens in a foreign country
coyote
a forest fire fighter who is sent to battle remote and severe forest fires (often for days at a time)
Daniel
a wise and upright judge
Protestant deacon, deacon
a Protestant layman who assists the minister
DA, district attorney
an official prosecutor for a judicial district
doge
formerly the chief magistrate in the republics of Venice and Genoa
elder
any of various church officers
envoy, envoy extraordinary, minister plenipotentiary
a diplomat having less authority than an ambassador
Grand Inquisitor
director of the court of Inquisition (especially in Spain and Portugal)
high commissioner
a senior diplomat from one country to another who is assigned ambassadorial rank
Indian agent
a representative of the federal government to American Indian tribes (especially on Indian reservations)
internuncio
(Roman Catholic Church) a diplomatic representative of the Pope ranking below a nuncio
justiciar, justiciary
formerly a high judicial officer
lame duck
an elected official still in office but not slated to continue
lieutenant governor
an elected official serving as deputy to the governor of a state of the United States
magistrate
a lay judge or civil authority who administers the law (especially one who conducts a court dealing with minor offenses)
diplomatic minister, minister
a diplomat representing one government to another; ranks below ambassador
nuncio, papal nuncio
(Roman Catholic Church) a diplomatic representative of the Pope having ambassadorial status
office-bearer
the person who holds an office
Fed, Federal, federal official
any federal law-enforcement officer
ordinary
a judge of a probate court
paper-pusher
a clerk or bureaucrat who does paperwork
persona grata
a diplomat who is acceptable to the government to which he is sent
persona non grata
a diplomat who is unacceptable to the government to which he is sent
placeman, placeseeker
a disparaging term for an appointee
plenipotentiary
a diplomat who is fully authorized to represent his or her government
praetor, pretor
an annually elected magistrate of the ancient Roman Republic
probation officer
the officer of the court who supervises probationers
procurator
(ancient Rome) someone employed by the Roman Emperor to manage finance and taxes
qadi
an Islamic judge
rapporteur
a recorder appointed by a committee to prepare reports of the meetings
recorder
a barrister or solicitor who serves as part-time judge in towns or boroughs
recruiting-sergeant
a sergeant deputized to enlist recruits
selectman
an elected member of a board of officials who run New England towns
selectwoman
an elected member of a board of officials who run New England towns
sergeant at arms, serjeant-at-arms
an officer (as of a legislature or court) who maintains order and executes commands
sacristan, sexton
an officer of the church who is in charge of sacred objects
state attorney, state's attorney
a prosecuting attorney for a state
assessor, tax assessor
an official who evaluates property for the purpose of taxing it
collector of internal revenue, exciseman, internal revenue agent, tax collector, taxman
someone who collects taxes for the government
taxer
a bureaucrat who levies taxes
trial judge
a judge in a trial court
trier
one (as a judge) who examines and settles a case
trustbuster
a federal agent who engages in trust busting
verger
a church officer who takes care of the interior of the building and acts as an attendant (carries the verge) during ceremonies
vestryman
a man who is a member of a church vestry
vestrywoman
a woman who is a member of a church vestry
George F. Kennan, George Frost Kennan, Kennan
United States diplomat who recommended a policy of containment in dealing with Soviet aggression (1904-2005)
Type of:
skilled worker, skilled workman, trained worker
a worker who has acquired special skills

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