Syndic (Late Latin: syndicus; Greek: σύνδικος, sýndikos — one who helps in a court of justice, an advocate, representative), a term applied in certain countries to an officer of government with varying powers, and secondly to a representative or delegate of a university, institution or other corporation, entrusted with special functions or powers.
The meaning which underlies both applications is that of representative or delegate. Du Cange (Gloss, s.v. Syndicus), after defining the word as defensor, fair onus, advocatus, proceeds "Syndici maxime appellantur Actores universitatum, collegiorum, societatum et aliorum corporum, per quos, tanquam in republica quod communiter agi fierive oportet, agitur et fit," and gives several examples from the 13th century of the use of the term. The most familiar use of "syndic" in the first sense is that of the Italian sindaco, who is the head of the administration of a comune, comparable to a mayor, and a government official, elected by the residents of commune.
Nearly all companies, guilds, and the University of Paris had representative bodies the members of which were termed syndici. Similarly in England, the Regent House of the University of Cambridge, which is the legislative body, delegates certain functions to special committees of its members, appointed from time to time by Grace (a proposal offered to the Regent House and confirmed by it); these committees are termed "syndicates" and are permanent or occasional, and the members are styled "the syndics" of the particular committee or of the institution which they administer; thus there are the syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, of the Cambridge University Press, of local examinations, etc.
One special use of the term applies to the Franciscan order of priests and brothers. The Order of Friars Minor (OFM), as opposed to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv.) is forbidden by its constitutions from owning property, as part of its commitment to communal poverty. Various arrangements therefore exist whereby churches and houses of the order are owned by the Holy See itself, or the local diocese or, sometimes, by a "syndic," an independent layman who is the actual owner of the land but who loans it to the friars.
Within Syndicalist and Anarcho-syndicalist organizations, a syndic is a member of an autonomous union, also called a Syndicate, which make up the basic organizational unit of society. As these models are organized along principles of non-hierarchy and direct democracy, the title syndic is applied to all in the syndicate and does not imply a position of power over any other member, unlike older usages of the title.