The starosta // or starost (Cyrillic: старост/а, Latin: capitaneus, German: Starost, Hauptmann) is a term of Slavic origin denoting a community elder whose role was to administer the assets of a clan or family estates. The Slavic root of starost translates as "senior". Since the Middle Ages, it has meant an official in a leadership position in a range of civic and social contexts throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In terms of a municipality, a starosta was historically a senior royal administrative official, equivalent to the County Sheriff or the outdated Seneschal, and analogous to a gubernator. In Poland, a starosta would administer crown territory or a delineated district called a starostwo.
In the early Middle Ages, the starosta could head a settled urban or rural community or other communities, such as a church starosta, or an artel starosta, etc. The starosta also functioned as the master of ceremonies.