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Basic Information

A deputy is someone who exercises an office in the absence of the normal holder. Compare an amanuensis.

The title is frequently used for elected members in a representative democracy - since they exercise power on behalf of those who elect them1.

In the US this will frequently refer to a Sheriff's deputy - a uniformed police officer operating under the control of a local sheriff. In this context he may or may not be clueless.

In many times and places, the deputy for a given person may be the one who actually does the job - the nominal office holder merely collecting the salary and paying the deputy a small fraction thereof to discharge their duties.

A priest's deputy may be referred to as a vicar2 - strictly the term is a synonym for deputy but is almost exclusively used in an ecclesiastical context in modern English.

For some reason, they are not popular with semi-literate trolls.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A character may actually have a private income that results from holding a job that is actually discharged by a deputy.
  • Ignorant characters may spend ages hunting down a post holder who has no capability to or interest in assisting them, having farmed his duties out.
  • Conversely, a deputy holding a farmed out job may hide behind his theoretical lack of authority when he doesn't want to help.
  • …and of course any documents endorsed by the deputy rather than the official office holder may not stand up to legal challenge. This could go either way, depending on the requirements of plot.
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