For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Secretary (title).

Secretary (title)

Secretary is a title often used in organizations to indicate a person having a certain amount of authority, power, or importance in the organization. Secretaries announce important events and communicate to the organization. The term is derived from the Latin word secernere, "to distinguish" or "to set apart", the passive participle (secretum) meaning "having been set apart", with the eventual connotation of something private or confidential, as with the English word secret. A secretarius was a person, therefore, overseeing business confidentially, usually for a powerful individual (a king, pope, etc.).

The official title of the leader of most communist and socialist political parties is the "General Secretary of the Central Committee" or "First Secretary of the Central Committee". When a communist party is in power, the general secretary is usually the country's de facto leader (though sometimes this leader also holds state-level positions to monopolize power, such as a presidency or premiership in order to constitute de jure leadership of the state), such as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba.[1]

In England, the term secretarius was used "from the beginning of the thirteenth century in the varying meanings of a confidential clerk, an ambassador, or a member of the king's council".[2] In the fourteenth century, the title became strongly associated with the keeper of the king's signet.[2] From the Renaissance to the late 19th century, men involved in the daily correspondence and the activities of the powerful assumed the title of secretary. With time, like many titles, the term was applied to more and varied functions, leading to compound titles to specify the authority associated with its use, like general secretary or financial secretary.

In some countries, such as the United States, the term secretary is used to indicate the holder of a cabinet-level post. There are a number of popular variations of the title used to indicate that the secretary in question has a high degree of authority, such as general secretary (or, following usage in the Norman language, secretary-general), first secretary, and executive secretary.

In a club or society, the secretary is also considered to be, in most cases, the third person in charge of the organization, after the president/chairman and vice president/vice chairman.[3] In smaller organizations, the secretary typically takes meeting minutes, notifies members of meetings, contacts various persons in relation to the society, administers the day-to-day activities of the organization, and creates the order of business. The secretary of a non-governmental organization or international non-governmental organization can combine the function with that of vice president/vice chairman.[3]

General secretary

General secretary occurs as the title of a ministerial position of authority found in various organizations, such as trade unions, communist and socialist parties, and international non-governmental organizations. Examples include:

Communist Party

General secretary or first secretary is the official title of leaders of most Communist political parties. When a Communist party is the ruling party in a Communist-led one-party state, the general secretary is typically the country's de facto leader. Examples include:

Dravidian Party

General secretary is the official title of leaders of most Dravidian political parties, that are politically influential in Tamil Nadu of Southern India. Examples include:


Examples include:

International intergovernmental organizations

Organization Title
African Planning Society (APS) Secretary-General of the African Planning Society
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General of ASEAN
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the de facto leader. The secretary-general advises member nations and heads conferences with the Head of the Commonwealth, currently King Charles III.
Council of Europe (COE) Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Council of the European Union Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
European Commission Secretary-General of the European Commission
European Court of Auditors Secretary-General of the European Court of Auditors
European Economic and Social Committee Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee
League of Nations (1919–1946) Secretary General of the League of Nations
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) The Secretary General of NATO is the chief administrative officer of NATO.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General of the OECD
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General of the Organization of American States
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary General of the UNASUR
United Nations (UN) The Secretary-General of the United Nations is described as the chief administrative officer and the de facto head of the United Nations. The Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations hires, terminates, and controls all United Nations staff and relief efforts around the World.
Western European Union (WEU) Secretary-General of the Western European Union

First secretary

First secretary is the title of the chief officer or leader in many organizations, and is also a modern diplomatic rank. Examples include:

Executive secretary

Examples include:


Within many organizations, the title of secretary is combined with that of treasurer.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Xi's here to stay: China leader tipped to outstay term". Yahoo! News. August 9, 2016. "A lot of analysts now see it as a given" that Xi will seek to stay Party General Secretary, the country's most powerful post, said Christopher K. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and now China specialist at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
  2. ^ a b J. Otway-Ruthven, The King's Secretary and the Signet Office in the XV Century (1939), p. 60.
  3. ^ a b Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 4th edition, Scott, Foresman and Company, Chicago, 1915, pp. 244–247.
  4. ^ "Interportpolice". Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  5. ^ "Secretary and Treasurer definition".

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Secretary (title)
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?