altar boy


Definition of altar boy

1 : a boy who assists the celebrant in a liturgical service
2 chiefly US : a morally pure and virtuous person No one expects … the trendsetter and party animal to become an altar boy.— Johnnie L. Roberts typically used in negative constructions to describe a man whose behavior is not entirely admirable or blameless A long time ago she married a man who turns out, by his own admission, to be somewhat dishonest—not a killer, not a dope peddler, but no altar boy, either.— Richard Cohen

Examples of altar boy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But the charges against him only involve an 11-year-old altar boy. Mary Hudetz, The Seattle Times, "Fugitive priest accused of abusing boy faces trial," 30 Mar. 2019 In 1988, Conn, then 36, was arrested and later admitted to molesting six altar boys between the ages of 11 and 13, court records show. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Seattle Archdiocese pays nearly $7 million to settle men’s claims that six priests abused them as boys," 13 Nov. 2018 At Zhuang’s service, there were perhaps two dozen parishioners: elderly farmers, two teenage girls and one fidgety altar boy who arrived, then zoomed away, on a muddy motorbike. Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, "A Catholic bishop and his rural Chinese parish worry about a deal between Beijing and the Vatican," 11 Mar. 2018 On Tuesday, the German bishops conference released a report which found that some 3,677 people — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys — were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014. Jari Tanner, The Seattle Times, "Pope: Priestly abuse scandals driving Catholic faithful away," 25 Sep. 2018 The German bishops conference on Tuesday was releasing a report that found that some 3,677 people — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys — were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014. Fox News, "Pope Francis says church needs to 'change' as sexual abuse scandals driving people away," 26 Sep. 2018 In July, then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned from the college of cardinals after he was accused of abusing an altar boy decades ago. Ian Lovett And Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Vatican Bars U.S. Bishops’ Action on Sex Abuse," 12 Nov. 2018 The seminary in question, located inside a palazzo just a few steps from the Vatican hotel where Francis lives, serves as a residence for about a dozen boys, aged 12 to 18, who serve as altar boys at papal Masses. Washington Post, "Vatican City still has no policy to fight clergy sex abuse," 1 July 2018 In January 2010, Thomas, a Savannah native who served as an altar boy in the building, attended the center’s dedication. Charlotte West, Teen Vogue, "SCAD Building Named After Clarence Thomas Sparks Opposing Petitions," 22 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'altar boy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of altar boy

1772, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

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The first known use of altar boy was in 1772

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altar boy


English Language Learners Definition of altar boy

: a boy who helps the priest during a Catholic service

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an act or instance of returning to life

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