bish·​op | \ˈbi-shəp \

Definition of bishop 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one having spiritual or ecclesiastical supervision: such as

a : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking above a priest, having authority to ordain and confirm, and typically governing a diocese

b : any of various Protestant clerical officials who superintend other clergy

c : a Mormon high priest presiding over a ward or over all other bishops and over the Aaronic priesthood

2 : either of two pieces of each color in a set of chessmen having the power to move diagonally across any number of adjoining unoccupied squares

3 : mulled port wine flavored with oranges and cloves


biographical name (1)
Bish·​op | \ˈbi-shəp \

Definition of Bishop (Entry 2 of 3)

Elizabeth 1911–1979 American poet


biographical name (2)

Definition of Bishop (Entry 3 of 3)

John Michael 1936–     American microbiologist

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Did You Know?

The Old English word bisceop, from which we get our English word bishop, comes from the Latin word episcopus. Like many other Latin words connected with religion and the church, this was borrowed from Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written. The Greek word episkopos, meaning “overseer,” was first used for officials in government, and later came to be used for church leaders. In the Bible, bishop and priest were used to identify the same thing. It was much later when a bishop became overseer of a large district, or diocese.

Examples of bishop in a Sentence


the Bishop of New York

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Archbishop Byrnes, formerly Detroit’s former auxiliary bishop, formally took the reins as Archbishop Apuron’s successor earlier this year. Tom Corrigan, WSJ, "Guam’s Archdiocese of Agana to File for Bankruptcy," 7 Nov. 2018 Catholic bishops have campaigned against his government’s crackdown on drugs, which has left thousands dead since Mr. Duterte took office two years ago — many of them killed by police officers, others by vigilantes. Felipe Villamor, New York Times, "‘Who Is This Stupid God?’ For His Latest Insult, Duterte Aims High," 26 June 2018 This week, Catholic bishops including Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore urged the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents at the border. Christina Tkacik,, "At Highlandtown carnival, respite for Baltimore's Latino community and concern about immigration policy," 20 June 2018 But Fallin's action drew support from Oklahoma's Catholic bishops. CBS News, "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoes constitutional carry bill, dealing blow to NRA," 11 May 2018 Each diocese has archives of personnel files and other records, including candid internal documents that bishops and other administrators never assumed were going to be made public. Peter Smith,, "Victims' advocates: Abuse not just a 'Catholic problem'," 25 June 2018 So where did this domestication myth come from? Irving-Pease traced the peculiar story to a 584 A.D. document from Gallo-Roman bishop and historian St. Gregory of Tours—not Pope Gregory the Great. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "The Odd, Tidy Story of Rabbit Domestication That Is Also Completely False," 14 Feb. 2018 As large numbers of Vietnamese refugees — many of them Catholic — began resettling in the area, William Johnson, then the bishop of Orange, recruited sisters to serve this growing population in the diocese. Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil,, "Young women seek a nun's life with a joyful Vietnamese order," 15 June 2018 The church's rector discovered the damage, the Right Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, said in a statement. Evan Perez, CNN, "Suspect arrested in package bombing of Texas church, source says," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bishop.' 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 bishop


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bishop


Middle English bisshop, from Old English bisceop, from Late Latin episcopus, from Greek episkopos, literally, overseer, from epi- + skeptesthai to look — more at spy

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Dictionary Entries near bishop






bishop's apron


Statistics for bishop

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for bishop

The first known use of bishop was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for bishop



English Language Learners Definition of bishop

: an official in some Christian religions who is ranked higher than a priest and who is usually in charge of church matters in a specific geographical area

: a piece in the game of chess that moves across the board at an angle


bish·​op | \ˈbi-shəp \

Kids Definition of bishop

1 : a member of the clergy of high rank

2 : a piece in the game of chess

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More from Merriam-Webster on bishop

Spanish Central: Translation of bishop

Nglish: Translation of bishop for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bishop for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bishop

Comments on bishop

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full of whispering sounds

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