cler·​gy | \ ˈklər-jē How to pronounce clergy (audio) \
plural clergies

Definition of clergy

1 : a group ordained to perform pastoral or sacerdotal functions in a Christian church Members of the clergy have been invited to participate in an interfaith service.
2 : the official or sacerdotal class of a non-Christian religion Buddhist clergy

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for clergy


church, cloth, first estate, ministry, spirituality, spiritualty



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of clergy in a Sentence

Local clergy have been invited to participate in an interfaith service. a member of the clergy

Recent Examples on the Web

The Queen handed out Maundy money to a group of senior citizens, who'd been recommended by clergy from all denominations for their service to their communities and churches. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "For a Joint Appearance with Queen Elizabeth, Princess Eugenie Rewears a Floral Erdem Dress," 18 Apr. 2019 Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability, an online database about clergy abuse, said any law that protects even a single child is to be applauded. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Pope requires sex abuse claims be reported in Vatican City," 30 Mar. 2019 The little princess entered the event hand-in-hand with dad Prince William (awww), who helped her navigate how to properly greet the members of the clergy. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Princess Charlotte Switched Her Hair to a Middle Part and It Looks Utterly Adorable," 9 July 2018 Allah, a New Yorker, films residents of Jamaica, his mother’s home country—prostitutes and street people, merchants and members of the clergy (including the filmmaker’s grandfather, a minister)—with a diverse and collage-like artistry. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "At New Directors/New Films, a Cinema of Civic Life," 23 Mar. 2018 Photo: Associated Press Shah initiates White Revolution, a series of economic, social and land reforms, angering the clergy by diminishing its influence and sparking protests spearheaded by Ruhollah Khomeini. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Iran Vows to Continue Military Expansion Despite U.S. Threats," 11 Feb. 2019 At a news conference Tuesday outlining Beijing’s approach, a government spokesman said the Vatican would never be allowed control over the clergy in China. Ian Johnson,, "China Bans Online Bible Sales as It Tightens Religious Controls," 5 Apr. 2018 The United Methodist Church voted last week to uphold its rule that clergy remain celibate if single or monogamous if married. Mark Tooley, WSJ, "The African Future of ‘America’s Church’," 7 Mar. 2019 Her most extensive experience is dealing with clergy abuse. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "Sex-Crimes Prosecutor: Claims From Ford Against Judge Kavanaugh Lack Sufficient Evidence," 1 Oct. 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for clergy

Middle English clergie, from Anglo-French, from clerc clergyman

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clergy

Statistics for clergy

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clergy

The first known use of clergy was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clergy



English Language Learners Definition of clergy

: people (such as priests) who are the leaders of a religion and who perform religious services


cler·​gy | \ ˈklər-jē How to pronounce clergy (audio) \
plural clergies

Kids Definition of clergy

: the group of religious officials (as priests, ministers, and rabbis) specially prepared and authorized to lead religious services

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on clergy

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


to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!