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 On the other end of the spectrum, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine recently mandated that all clergy and staffers get vaccinated by the end of September. Shelia Poole, ajc, 5 Sep. 2021 In September, the bishop visited the basilica as the diocese announced a special committee to investigate Ryan's life for any reason why the priest would not be eligible for sainthood. Arkansas Online, 13 Aug. 2021 The bishop greeted parishioners at a reception after Mass. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 3 Aug. 2021 The other one was Thomas L. Dupre, the late former bishop of the Springfield archdiocese in Massachusetts., 29 July 2021 Torres, the bishop, said many migrants are being forced to buy resale tickets for boat rides, pushing prices out of reach for many. Washington Post, 28 July 2021 Led by the Most Rev. Robert McElroy, the bishop of San Diego, the 90-minute funeral was the first of several events aimed at honoring Carroll, who died at age 80 from the complications of diabetes. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 July 2021 Diego Coletti, the bishop of Como, a large diocese 400 miles northwest of Vatican City. Anchorage Daily News, 12 July 2021 The bishop and his parish held the first service Sept. 3, 1871, in the nave of the then-still-under-construction house of worship. The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 July 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.

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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

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bishop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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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 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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