Member who has been (in a group, court, organization) the longest

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I've been looking for a word to say 'member who has been in a group (Supreme Court, organization, order, etc) the longest time.' In Portuguese there is such a word, but I'm really not sure if it exists in English for all cases mentioned above. My question: What word or expression could I use to say 'member who has currently been in a group (Supreme Court, organization, order, etc) the longest time' in English?

The examples I made:

a. Celso de Mello is currently the judge who has been in the Brazilian Supreme Court the longest time.
b. John is currently the one who has been in the Secret Order the longest time.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Yes, although as always in English you have to avoid constructions where a secondary meaning of a word gets humorously confused with the intended meaning. That is, Mike is a trumpeter and he can play standing up longer than any other member in the band, for hours. He is the longest standing member of the group. :) Years ago there was an advertising campaign for a local dairy company: "Our cows are outstanding in their field!" Get it? Our cows are out standing in their field. Standing out in the field presumably chewing their cud. It's a minor witticism but one that tends to amuse people.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much.

    I've just found the word 'dean' (the senior member, in length of service, of any profession, field, etc.: the dean of American composers. Thefreedictionary), although it seems much less common (even unnatural). My question: could I use "dean" to mean "'member who has been in a group (Supreme Court, organization, order, etc) the longest time.'' ?

    ''Antonin Scalia, Dean of the Supreme Court of the United States, died.'' [http://archyworldys.com]

    Thank you in advance!

     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In certain cases, such as the diplomatic corps, "dean" is perfectly acceptable. However, no one would understand what you meant by the "dean" of the Ladies' Garden Club. Also note that in certain contexts (such as universities, or certain church positions) "dean" is a title given to a specific position that has nothing to do with length of service. You should stick with "longest-serving member", or (my preference) "most senior member".
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much.

    More specifically, I was looking for the best choice for the (Supreme Court) context. In this specific case, do you recommend "dean" or should I stick with "longest-serving member; most senior member), as you said ?

    Thank you in advance!
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    For the United States Supreme Court, I would never use the term "dean" to refer to any of the nine justices. I would instead say "longest serving member", or "most senior member". By the way, the longest serving member of the court is now Justice Anthony Kennedy.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much. It's clear now.

    In spite of finding dean in the Thefreedictionary, and Latin equivalents leading me to think dean was possible, Google didn't show enough hits with dean (for the Supreme Court context). Now, after your answers, it's clear!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Dean used in this way is a very informal, almost jocular, term. I wouldn't expect to see it outside of journalism. The Supreme Court is a very small body and it also has a Chief Justice so it would be very odd to imply that there is some other sort of leader (just as it would be very odd to imply that a man who has swept the floors for 50 years is the dean of the company).
     
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