noun bish·op \ˈbi-shəp\

Definition of bishop

  1. 1 :  one having spiritual or ecclesiastical supervision: such asa :  an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking above a priest, having authority to ordain and confirm, and typically governing a dioceseb :  any of various Protestant clerical officials who superintend other clergyc :  a Mormon high priest presiding over a ward or over all other bishops and over the Aaronic priesthood

  2. 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. 3 :  mulled port wine flavored with oranges and cloves

Examples of bishop in a sentence

  1. the Bishop of New York

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

First Known Use: before 12th century


biographical name Bish·op \ˈbi-shəp\

Definition of Bishop

  1. Elizabeth 1911–1979 American poet


biographical name bish·op

Definition of Bishop

  1. John Michael 1936–     American microbiologist

BISHOP Defined for English Language Learners


noun bish·op \ˈbi-shəp\

Definition of bishop for English Language Learners

  • : 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

BISHOP Defined for Kids


noun bish·op \ˈbi-shəp\

Definition of bishop for Students

  1. 1 :  a member of the clergy of high rank

  2. 2 :  a piece in the game of chess

History for bishop

The original duty of a bishop was to watch over the members of a church as a shepherd watches over a flock. Appropriately, the word bishop comes ultimately from a Greek word, episkopos, that means literally “overseer”: the prefix epi- means “on” or “over,” and the second part -skopos means “watcher.” The pronunciation of the word was changed when it was borrowed from Greek into Latin, and further changed when it was borrowed into Old English. In Old English it was spelled bisceop but probably sounded quite a bit like the modern word bishop.

Seen and Heard

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


feeling or affected by lethargy

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • ludwig-richter-spring-has-arrived
  • Which is a synonym of upbraid?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.