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

Definition of bishop

1 : someone having spiritual or ecclesiastical supervision over others: such as
a : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyperson 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

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 Cardinal Zen, the Roman Catholic bishop of Hong Kong from 2002 through 2009, was arrested along with other prominent activists, including lawmaker Margaret Ng and pop star and gay-rights activist Denise Ho. Mark L. Clifford, WSJ, 13 May 2022 It’s about a Catholic bishop and his erotic novelist lover. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 14 Feb. 2022 Semnani, a Muslim, insisted on showcasing leaders of other faiths, too, such as Silvestre de Escalante, a Franciscan friar-explorer, and Father Lawrence Scanlan, Utah’s first Catholic bishop. The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Feb. 2022 Among the speakers at the demonstration was the Rev. James Altman, who was ordered by his bishop to resign as a parish priest in Wisconsin this year after a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic. Peter Smith,, 16 Nov. 2021 Not long after his birthday in August, the Catholic bishop of Beaumont told him that the time had come. New York Times, 25 Oct. 2021 The Diocese of Covington will install Monsignor John Iffert as its 11th bishop on Thursday, Sept. 30. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, 29 Sep. 2021 Because of their own bishop’s decision to let Latin Masses continue, the congregants at St. Francis of Assisi have seen no immediate changes. Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2021 California San Francisco: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America installed its first openly transgender bishop in a service held in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Saturday. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

27 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bishop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bishop


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

Bishop biographical name (1)

Bish·​op | \ ˈbi-shəp How to pronounce Bishop (audio) \

Definition of Bishop

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Elizabeth 1911–1979 American poet


biographical name (2)

Definition of Bishop (Entry 2 of 2)

J(ohn) Michael 1936–     American microbiologist


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