chap·​lain | \ˈcha-plən \

Definition of chaplain 

1 : a clergyman in charge of a chapel

2 : a clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court

3 : a person chosen to conduct religious exercises (as at a meeting of a club or society)

4 : a clergyman appointed to assist a bishop (as at a liturgical function)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from chaplain

chaplaincy \-​sē \ noun

Examples of chaplain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Many states, including Texas, New York, Florida, and the District of Columbia, have a prison chaplain deliver the news. Christie Thompson, sacbee, "Your loved one dies. The prison leaves a voicemail," 22 June 2018 The Bulls had publicly toyed with the idea of having beloved Loyola team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt represent the franchise. K.c. Johnson,, "Michael Reinsdorf scheduled to represent Bulls at draft lottery," 1 May 2018 After a protracted fight, Coughlin was instead chosen for the post, making history as the first Catholic chaplain. Paul Kane,, "Paul Ryan dismissed the House chaplain, and lawmakers want to know why," 26 Apr. 2018 Things evolved from there and in 1988, I was asked to serve as part of the first U.S. Olympic chaplain team. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "50 Years After Winning Olympic Gold, Madeline Manning Mims Reflects on Her History-Making Moment," 16 Oct. 2018 Conner says the restrictions on who may serve as guest chaplain violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on making laws that establish a religion. Mark Scolforo, Fox News, "Nonbelievers win suit over Pennsylvania House prayer policy," 30 Aug. 2018 The Roman Catholic archbishop of New York has joined New York National Guard leaders in Times Square for a ceremony commemorating the centennial of the battlefield service of a storied Army chaplain. Fox News, "Times Square ceremony honors Father Duffy of WWI fame," 27 June 2018 Karey was also a chaplain for the Detroit Police Department, providing counseling and guidance to both officers and citizens. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Archdiocese: Sex abuse claim against dead priest is credible," 22 June 2018 Father Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain who was controversially ousted from his position by House Speaker Paul Ryan has rescinded his resignation, CBS News' Ed O'Keefe and Rebecca Kaplan report. CBS News, "Ousted House chaplain rescinds his resignation," 3 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chaplain

Middle English chapelein, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin cappellanus, from cappella

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chaplain

Statistics for chaplain

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chaplain

The first known use of chaplain was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for chaplain



English Language Learners Definition of chaplain

: a priest or other Christian religious leader who performs religious services for a military group (such as the army) or for a prison, hospital, etc.


chap·​lain | \ˈcha-plən \

Kids Definition of chaplain

: a member of the clergy who performs religious services for a special group (as the army)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on chaplain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chaplain

Spanish Central: Translation of chaplain

Nglish: Translation of chaplain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chaplain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chaplain

Comments on chaplain

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


a nest or breeding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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