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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Rodimer, 42, is the great-nephew of a New Jersey Catholic bishop named Frank Rodimer. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Garcia: Former wrestler is the wild card in congressional special election," 19 Mar. 2021 Vasco de Quiroga, a Spanish bishop who lived in Mexico during the early years of his home country’s colonial exploitation of the Americas, founded the church in the 16th century as part of a huatápera, or hospital complex. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Fire at 16th-Century Mexican Church Prompts Debate Over How to Protect Cultural Heritage," 18 Mar. 2021 He was hired despite having been frequently quoted defending a local bishop who was found guilty of a misdemeanor after shielding a priest who took pornographic pictures of girls. New York Times, "Josh Hawley Is ‘Not Going Anywhere.’ How Did He Get Here?," 7 Mar. 2021 Deep in the desert, a bishop was allegedly bludgeoned with a metal pipe. Washington Post, "Murder mystery inside Egyptian monastery stirs concerns for monk on death row," 27 Nov. 2020 Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, pastor of Holy Redeemer Church Of God In Christ in Milwaukee, and jurisdictional bishop of the Wisconsin First Jurisdiction. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit pastor J. Drew Sheard elected as national head of COGIC denomination, Dearborn pastor elected to board," 22 Mar. 2021 Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong and a longtime critic of Beijing, sat on a small stool. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "Hong Kong on Trial," 22 Mar. 2021 Diversions like the ridiculous bishop or the weird Rus storyline felt exactly like that: diversions from a meatier, more interesting story. Erik Kain, Forbes, "‘Vikings’ Series Finale Review: The Last Three Sons Of Ragnar Lothbrok," 21 Mar. 2021 Not even the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has authority over any individual bishop. Steven P. Millies, The Conversation, "Catholic opinions on Johnson & Johnson vaccine highlight debate between hardliners on abortion and others in the church," 18 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bishop

Time Traveler for bishop

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for bishop

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bishop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on bishop

What made you want to look up bishop? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!