Definition of acolyte
1 : one who assists a member of the clergy in a liturgical service by performing minor duties
2 : one who attends or assists a leader : follower The mayor dined with a few of his acolytes.
acolyte was our Word of the Day on 05/18/2011. Hear the podcast!
Examples of acolyte in a Sentence
a popular professor dining with a few of her acolytes
a highly influential economist whose acolytes can be found at many major universities
Recent Examples of acolyte from the Web
One of them was White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger, a former California Klan leader who sent his son John up to Oregon in the mid-1980s to draw in acolytes.
No one knows which Trump acolyte gets to walk the plank first.
As the wife of a famous intellectual, she was often seen as Lionel’s acolyte or appendage.
And either way, what will that mean for Apple’s rapidly emptying stable of acolytes, software developers, and clone manufacturers?
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acolyte'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of acolyte
Middle English, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, acolit, from Medieval Latin acoluthus, from Middle Greek akolouthos, from Greek, adjective, following, from a-, ha- together (akin to Greek homos same) + keleuthos path
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
ACOLYTE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of acolyte for English Language Learners
: someone who follows and admires a leader
: someone who helps the person who leads a church service
Learn More about acolyte
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up acolyte? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).