The title of starost or starosta (Cyrillic: старост/а, Latin: capitaneus, German: Starost) designates an official or unofficial leader, used in various contexts through most of Slavic history. One can translate it as "senior" or "elder". The word comes from the Slavic root star-, "old". In Poland, a starosta would administer a territory called a starostwo.
In the early Middle Ages, the starosta was the head of a Slavic community or of other communities so one finds designations such as church starosta, artel starosta, etc. The starosta also functioned as the master of ceremonies in traditional Carpatho-Rusyn, Ukrainian, and Polish weddings, similar to stari svat (стари сват) in Serbian weddings.
In various countries
- In the history of Poland, see "Starostwo".
- In Ruthenia (Kievan Rus) it was a lower government official.
- In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starosta is the title of a mayor of a town or village (mayors of major cities use the title primátor).
- In Lithuania since 1991, starosta (Lithuanian: seniūnas) is the title of the head of a province.
- In Galicia and Bukovina under Austrian rule a starosta supervised the county administration.
- In Russia the word was used until the early 20th century to denote the elected leader of obshchina.
- In Ukraine during 1918 it was a post of an appointed official who represented the central government in regions. From 2015 is an official of a village that is a part of the united commune.