Starosta (Polish starosta, lat capitaneum ) is a Slavic word that originally referred to the administrator of the property of a clan. Since the Middle Ages, it is used for both official and unofficial leadership positions. In this respect it resembles the German words elder or chief. In relation to a city or a town a Starosta was no mayor (Polish: burmistrz ) as chief representative of an elected self-government, but a royal administrative officer, most likely with the outdated title Drost translate.

In the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom Zamoyski was a title for the middle nobility, like a baron, as well as an office, according to a district administrator. In Poland - Lithuania until 1795 there were two types of Zamoyski: Burg- Starosta (Polish grodowy ) and country - Starosta (Polish niegrodowy ). The first one was real King representatives and also a judge on a smaller area, starostwo called. The title was also common in parts of the Holy Roman Empire and brought no claim to ownership of lands with it. A Starostei was a royal demesne.

In today's Poland starosta means a district administrator, who presides over the county line ( Starostei ) and manages a powiat ( county). In the Czech Republic, however, Starosta corresponds to the Austrian or German mayor.