bish·​op | \ ˈbi-shəp How to pronounce bishop (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Bishop (audio) \

Definition of Bishop (Entry 2 of 3)

Elizabeth 1911–1979 American poet


biographical name (2)

Definition of Bishop (Entry 3 of 3)

J(ohn) 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

Noun the Bishop of New York
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the 1980s, then-Archbishop William Levada of the Archdiocese of Portland joined in a prayer service at Temple Beth, believed to be the first instance of a U.S. bishop participating in prayer at a Jewish temple. oregonlive, "Rabbi Emanuel Rose, religious leader and social justice advocate, dies," 9 Feb. 2020 Dabiré, the bishop in Dori, leads an interfaith group trying to repair divisions in the north. David Mckenzie, CNN, "8 million children have been forced out of school by growing violence in west Africa," 28 Jan. 2020 The presiding bishop of the New England Pentecostal church in Pelham, Stanley Choate, 75, was shot in the chest with a handgun, authorities said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Wedding attack suspect is stepson of recently slain minister," 13 Oct. 2019 Legally speaking, the U.S. bishops didn’t need Vatican approval prior to the vote. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "AP Exclusive: Vatican letter undermines US cardinal on abuse," 2 Jan. 2019 The bishops did not single out any specific case of historical manipulation., "News of the Day From Around the World," 25 Jan. 2020 Chaput was also one several U.S. bishops who praised the integrity of leading Francis critic, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. Washington Post, "Cleveland bishop named Philadelphia’s next archbishop," 23 Jan. 2020 The only trouble is that as Dudley spends more time with Julia (Loretta Young), the titular bishop’s wife, the two can’t help but develop a romantic tenderness for each other — just as Kate and Tom fall for each other in Last Christmas. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "13 classic holiday films to watch with their modern Christmas counterparts," 6 Dec. 2019 In Villa del Rosario hundreds of people line up for lunch at a communal kitchen operated by the local bishop. The Economist, "Colombia’s unquiet border with Venezuela," 2 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for bishop

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

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Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bishop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for bishop


How to pronounce Bishop (audio)

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 How to pronounce bishop (audio) \

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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