an·​cho·​rite ˈaŋ-kə-ˌrīt How to pronounce anchorite (audio)
variants or less commonly anchoret
: a person who lives in seclusion usually for religious reasons
anchoritic adjective
anchoritically adverb

Did you know?

The term "anchor" was being used for religious hermits about 450 years before "anchorite" came into common use in our language. The reclusive "anchor" and "anchorite" are both derived from the Late Latin anachoreta, which, in turn, can be traced to the Greek anachōrein, meaning "to withdraw." Are they etymologically related to the kind of anchors you find on ships? Not exactly. The Latin root of sea-going "anchor," "anchora," probably influenced the spelling and pronunciation of the words that led to "anchorite" and the reclusive "anchor," but it is not a direct ancestor.

Examples of anchorite in a Sentence

many Christian saints were anchorites who removed themselves from the world to focus on their spirituality
Recent Examples on the Web The original Anthology Film Archives, on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, was designed with high black partitions between each seat, so that viewers could wall themselves in to the screen like anchorites. Rachel Cusk, Harper's Magazine, 9 Sep. 2023 Why were anchorites such as Simeon Stylites — who lived atop a pillar — regularly consulted on all sorts of practical problems? Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 9 June 2023 Perhaps our lives now more closely resemble ancient anchorites, religious recluses who lived alone in rooms adjoining churches, said Cathleen Kaveny, a Catholic theologian at Boston College. Daniel Burke, CNN, 5 Apr. 2020 In other instances, anchorites became wise people to visit and from whom to seek council. Los Angeles Times, 12 Sep. 2019 But there are certainly similarities between the anchorite and the handmaid. Annie Sutherland, Quartzy, 13 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anchorite.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Medieval Latin anchorita, alteration of Late Latin anachoreta, from Late Greek anachōrētēs, from Greek anachōrein to withdraw, from ana- + chōrein to make room, from chōros place

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anchorite was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near anchorite

Cite this Entry

“Anchorite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


an·​cho·​rite ˈaŋ-kə-ˌrīt How to pronounce anchorite (audio)

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