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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for clergy



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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 rabbi and the pastor are pleasantly surprised that a teen-ager is interested in such morally substantive matters, but the hostess, familiar with Perry and therefore suspicious of him, tries to steer him away from the clergy. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 In the Middle Ages, literacy was largely confined to the clergy, but clerk gradually became the name for bookkeepers, secretaries, and notaries — anyone who could read or write. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Sep. 2021 Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of Bishop Accountability, a watchdog group that tracks clergy abuse cases worldwide, said the prosecution of McCarrick has international implications., 3 Sep. 2021 With the clergy leading the way, hundreds of thousands of laypeople joined the protests. New York Times, 28 Aug. 2021 Raisi was the winner of an election marked by voter apathy and allegations that the ruling clergy stacked the contest in favor of the hard-line cleric and former judiciary head. Washington Post, 21 July 2021 In another astute move, Favereau writes, the Mongols exempted the Orthodox clergy from taxation, and so enrolled the favorable influence of a submissive church. Colin Thubron, The New York Review of Books, 6 July 2021 Blazej Kmieciak said that some 30% of cases of abuse of persons under age 15 that the commission is analyzing relate to the clergy. Fox News, 24 June 2021 Princes, clergy, officials, messengers, and merchants could easily travel back and forth between the principalities and the hordes for purposes of politics and trade. Colin Thubron, The New York Review of Books, 6 July 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for clergy

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

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Statistics for clergy

Last Updated

3 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clergy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on clergy

Nglish: Translation of clergy for Spanish Speakers

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


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