1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chapter

CHAPTER (a shortened form of chapiter, a word still used in architecture for a capital; derived from O. Fr. chapitre, Lat. capitellum, diminutive of caput, head), a principal division or section of a book, and so applied to acts of parliament, as forming “chapters” or divisions of the legislation of a session of parliament. The name “chapter” is given to the permanent body of the canons of a cathedral or collegiate church, presided over, in the English Church, by the dean, and in the Roman communion by the provost or the dean, and also to the body of the members of a religious order. This may be a “conventual” chapter of the monks of a particular monastery, “provincial” of the members of the order in a province, or “general” of the whole order. This ecclesiastical use of the word arose from the custom of reading a chapter of Scripture, or a head (capitulum) of the regula, to the assembled canons or monks. The transference from the reading to the assembly itself, and to the members constituting it, was easy, through such phrases as convenire ad capitulum. The title “chapter” is similarly used of the assembled body of knights of a military or other order. (See also Canon; Cathedral; Dean).