noun \ˈprī(-ə)r\

: a monk who is the head of a religious house or order

: a priest whose rank is just below that of an abbot

: a previous time of being arrested for or found guilty of a crime

Full Definition of PRIOR

:  the superior ranking next to the abbot of a monastery
:  the superior of a house or group of houses of any of various religious communities
pri·or·ate \ˈprī-ə-rət\ noun
pri·or·ship \ˈprī(-ə)r-ˌship\ noun

Origin of PRIOR

Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French; both from Medieval Latin, from Late Latin, administrator, from Latin, former, superior
First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Christian Religious Terms

Pentateuch, blasphemy, curate, doxology, eremite, iconoclasm, liturgy, orison, pneuma, reliquary



: existing earlier in time

: more important than something else because it came first

Full Definition of PRIOR

:  earlier in time or order
:  taking precedence (as in importance)
pri·or·ly adverb

Examples of PRIOR

  1. Do you have a prior history of back problems?
  2. The job requires prior experience in advertising.
  3. The defendant had a prior record of convictions.
  4. I'm sorry, but we have a prior commitment and can't come tonight.
  5. We have a prior claim to the estate.

Origin of PRIOR

Latin, former, superior; akin to Latin priscus ancient, prae before — more at for
First Known Use: 1709

Rhymes with PRIOR


biographical name \ˈprī(-ə)r\

Definition of PRIOR

Matthew 1664–1721 Eng. poet


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Previous Word in the Dictionary: prionus
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