cel·​i·​ba·​cy | \ ˈse-lə-bə-sē How to pronounce celibacy (audio) \

Definition of celibacy

1 : the state of not being married
2a : abstention from sexual intercourse
b : abstention by vow from marriage priestly celibacy

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Examples of celibacy in a Sentence

a widower who has maintained absolute celibacy since the death of his wife
Recent Examples on the Web For example, perhaps the requirement of the celibacy of priests will fall. Washington Post, "Eyebrows raised as Swiss bishop taps woman for senior job," 4 June 2020 The arguments: Conservatives warned the change would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening traditions. Sarah Anderson, New York Times, "Your Thursday Briefing," 13 Feb. 2020 The Vatican is downplaying a defense of priestly celibacy by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI set to be issued as Pope Francis considers easing the prohibition on priests marrying. Carlin Becker, Washington Examiner, "'Cannot remain silent': Vatican scrambles to defuse controversy over Pope Emeritus Benedict opposition to married priests," 14 Jan. 2020 Even the pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, put a finger on the scale, arguing for priestly celibacy in a rare intercession that highlighted the hardening of liberal and conservative camps that has come to define Francis’ papacy. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Pope Francis Sets Aside Proposal on Married Priests," 12 Feb. 2020 Francis has shown no interest in making celibacy optional across the church, and the issue has caused months of ideological wrestling in the Vatican and beyond. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "Pope Francis backs away from potentially major reform, putting off decision on allowing married priests in the Amazon," 12 Feb. 2020 There is nothing wrong with choosing celibacy or living a celibate life. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Celibacy causes partner’s esteem to plummet," 24 Feb. 2020 Traditionalists saw the proposal as a backdoor move by which progressives would engineer an eventual end to mandatory celibacy worldwide. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, "“The Two Popes” Gives Way to Pope vs. Pope on the Issue of Celibacy in the Priesthood," 2 Feb. 2020 And it relieved conservatives who have used the debate over priestly celibacy to heighten opposition to the pope, whom some have accused of heresy. Nicole Winfield, USA TODAY, "Pope Francis rejects proposal to allow married men to become priests in the Amazon," 12 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'celibacy.' 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 celibacy

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for celibacy

celibate "state of not being married" (borrowed from Latin caelibātus, from caelebs "not having a spouse, unmarried" + -ātus -ate entry 2) + -acy — more at celibate entry 1

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Time Traveler for celibacy

Time Traveler

The first known use of celibacy was in 1646

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Statistics for celibacy

Last Updated

17 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Celibacy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celibacy. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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