I am trying to find a word for members of a council who are not officers. Officers of a council are usually defined in the constitution of that council and may include the chair [president, chairman, chairwomen ...], secretary, treasurer and others. However I cannot find a term which describes those people who are members of the council but are not officers.

"member" does not work as the secretary, for example, is both a member of the council and an officer.

An example of usage could be "At least two [members of the council who are not officers] must attend the meeting"

I would expect the word's usage to be similar of officer in "officer of the council" but am open to other words / phrases. Ideally the word should not be so obscure that most people would have to look it up!

  • @Lambie Yes, but I am looking for a word that describes those members who are NOT officers
    – andrew g
    Jul 2, 2022 at 13:50
  • 2
    Non-executive members might work. Check the written rules and regulations. It will also depend what type of council, and maybe what country: local government may have specific terms, but a tennis club may not.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 2, 2022 at 14:59
  • If you are referring to a local authority when you say "council" you should note that, in the UK, "Officers" are non-elected employees who do mental rather than physical work (accountants, housing officers, IT staff and so on) but the members of the elected body are "members". There will be the Chair or Mayor, the Leader, the Committee Chairs and so on but these are not referred to as officers. It may well be different in other countries but that is the UK norm. To refer to Members with special responsibility as "Officers" would just be confusing.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 3, 2022 at 16:23
  • It's somewhat academic, since members of a local authority (e.g. a council) cannot also be officers. So the term 'member' covers everyone on the council.
    – BillJ
    Jul 3, 2022 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


Here is one

rank and file noun
2. the individuals who constitute the body of an organization, society, or nation as distinguished from the leaders

  • 1
    Best suggestion so far, but to me rank and file would indicate those people who are not in the council at all.
    – andrew g
    Jul 2, 2022 at 14:30
  • What is a "council" as opposed to an "organization, society, or nation"?
    – GEdgar
    Jul 2, 2022 at 15:22
  • 1
    A council is (usually) a small subset of the group which is elected to represent the group as a whole and to make decisions on its behalf, i.e. to lead it. (So organizations, societies and nations can and do have councils, sometimes under another name.) So the structure would be members of the organization elect council members and council members elect the officers of the council. For me rank and file members would be the members of the organisation as a whole who are not members of the council.
    – andrew g
    Jul 2, 2022 at 15:45
  • I like this. Rank and file members. Jul 3, 2022 at 1:59
  • @andrewg That's not how it works. The officers (paid employees) of the council are not 'elected' by the members, but are subject to normal recruitment procedures, just as they would be in a commercial organisation.
    – BillJ
    Jul 3, 2022 at 18:43

It seems that the most easily understandable option is just "members" or, if you need to specify members that are not officers, "non-officer members." If you can get everyone to agree that "members" (without any other context) applies only to non-officer members, then that should work fine for this situation, and when you need to refer to everyone on the council you can say "members and officers."

The alternative is to decide on a word other than "members," and while I can't think of another one that fits quite as well, I can think of some creative options like "grassroots members," "knights," "meeting specialists," etc 😜 If everyone can't agree

  • 1
    This is in fact what I have been doing up to now, but not everyone appreciates the distinction so it can lead to confusion. Phrases such as "members of the council who are not officers" work to clarify the situation but I'm trying to find a less clumsy way of making the distinction.
    – andrew g
    Jul 2, 2022 at 15:49
  • The term 'non-executive' is preferable to 'non-officer'.
    – BillJ
    Jul 2, 2022 at 16:17
  • If there are only a small number of officers, just enumerate the positions. You can’t get clearer than that.
    – user205876
    Jul 2, 2022 at 19:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.