A council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. A council may function as a legislature, especially at a town, city or county/shire level, but most legislative bodies at the state/provincial or national level are not considered councils. At such levels, there may be no separate executive branch, and the council may effectively represent the entire government. A board of directors might also be denoted as a council. A committee might also be denoted as a council, though a committee is generally a subordinate body composed of members of a larger body, while a council may not be. Because many schools have a student council, the council is the form of governance with which many people are likely to have their first experience as electors or participants. A member of a council may be referred to as a councillor or councilperson, or by the gender-specific titles of councilman and councilwoman.

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