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

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 While hierarchies such as the Catholic bishops have one way of enabling abuse, the lack of any centralization can also breed abuse, said Brown, of Tennessee. Peter Smith,, "Victims' advocates: Abuse not just a 'Catholic problem'," 25 June 2018 Winstead plays Bowden over five decades of her life, beginning with her arrival in San Antonio near the turn of the century, wearing a red bow tied to her coat so the bishop could recognize her. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "St. Philip’s will mark the Tricentennial with a celebration on the East Side," 2 May 2018 Then she was seen greeting another bishop with a superb handshake. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Charlotte Tells Paparazzi "You're Not Coming" at Prince Louis' Christening," 10 July 2018 The Helena, Montana, diocese does not have a bishop after Bishop George Leo Thomas left earlier this year. Fox News, "Bishop criticizes priests who attended Trump rally as VIPs," 10 July 2018 The abuse, the man said, occurred in sacramental confession and on outings after Hart had become bishop. Judy L. Thomas, kansascity, "Could former KC priest, 86, still face charges? Yes, but 'there is an issue of time'," 3 July 2018 Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright said Wilson as a bishop had taken vigorous action against child abusers. Rod Mcguirk, USA TODAY, "Australian bishop sentenced to year’s detention for child sex abuse cover-up," 2 July 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

2 Oct 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

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not any or not one

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