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 The first openly gay United Methodist bishop, Karen Oliveto, told CBS Denver in January that the church's intent to split is personally heartbreaking. CBS News, "Georgia church splits from Methodists over LGBTQ dispute," 3 Sep. 2020 Per a statement, symbols seen on the cup include a chi-rho (or monogram said to represent Jesus Christ), a happy bishop, ships, a congregation, a fish and a whale. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Britain’s Oldest Example of Christian Graffiti Found Near Hadrian’s Wall," 1 Sep. 2020 The plan was reportedly the work of pro-regime militia leader Nabeul Abdullah, who received approval from the bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Hama. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Russia to help Syria build replica of Hagia Sophia after Turkey converts original into mosque: Report," 29 July 2020 The Vatican’s ambassador, in explaining the decision, said the current Kalisz bishop, Edward Janiak, 67, retains the title of Kalish bishop for the time being. Washington Post, "Pope moves against Polish bishop accused of hiding predators," 25 June 2020 Mobile’s first Catholic bishop, Michael Portier, founded Spring Hill College in 1830 on 400 acres of public land from the city of Mobile. Michelle Matthews |, al, "Why this is one of the most beautiful streets in Alabama," 23 June 2020 The pope appointed Mulloy as the 10th bishop of Duluth in June, with his installation set for Oct. 1. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, "Duluth bishop-elect resigns following allegation of sexual abuse," 7 Sep. 2020 Deputies spoke to the bishop at the church, who confirmed many of the details that McCarron had relayed. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, "InfoWars’ Millie Weaver, boyfriend and brother threw mother to the ground and took her cellphone, police report says," 17 Aug. 2020 All schools are submitting reopening plans — with guidelines for in-person, hybrid and distance learning — to the bishop for approval, according to Ortega. Jenny Berg, Star Tribune, "New school building comes at 'perfect time' amid pandemic," 17 Aug. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bishop

Last Updated

23 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bishop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 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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