Definition of acolyte
- The mayor dined with a few of his acolytes.
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a popular professor dining with a few of her acolytes
a highly influential economist whose acolytes can be found at many major universities
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Follow the etymological path of acolyte back far enough and you'll arrive at keleuthos, a Greek noun that means "path" and that is itself the parent of akolouthos, an adjective that means "following." Akolouthos traveled from Greek, leaving offspring in Medieval Latin and Anglo-French, and its descendant, acolyte, emerged in English in the 14th century. Originally, it was exclusively a term for a person who assisted a priest at Mass, but by the 19th century acolyte had acquired additional meanings, among them "attendant body, satellite" (a meaning used in astronomy) and "attendant insect" (a zoological sense), as well as the general meaning assistant or sidekick.
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
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