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


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



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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

Of the 50 names, 48 are listed as credibly accused and two deceased clergy members are listed as publicly accused. Washington Post, "Rhode Island diocese posts list of credibly accused priests," 1 July 2019 The diocese didn’t say how many complaints were lodged against each clergy member, or say how the church responded each time. Amanda Milkovits,, "For the first time since the church sexual abuse scandal began, the Providence diocese names 50 clergy accused of abusing minors," 30 June 2019 The report said accusations of abuse had been leveled against 690 priests in Illinois, while at that time Catholic officials had publicly identified 185 clergy members with credible allegations against them. Elvia Malagón,, "Review finds Archdiocese of Chicago needs stronger policies to report ‘grooming’ behavior that can lead to child abuse," 24 June 2019 All five dioceses have previously reported the accused clergy members to law enforcement. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "New Jersey Catholic Dioceses Release Names of Priests Accused of Sexual Assault," 13 Feb. 2019 Some clergy members named in the document say they're wrongfully accused and are fighting to challenge the allegations against them. Fox News, "The Latest: Report IDs over 1,000 victims of priest abuse," 2 Oct. 2018 The poisonous air would affect many firefighters, police officers, volunteers, construction workers, clergy and health professionals who arrived at the scene on the day of the attacks and the days that followed. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "9/11 First Responder Luis Alvarez Has 69th Round of Chemo After Testimony with Jon Stewart," 18 June 2019 On his return to Hartford, Kessler convened a meeting with clergy and slumlords from the North End of Hartford to demand better housing conditions. Anne M. Hamilton,, "Extraordinary Life: Rabbi Stanley Kessler led Temple Beth El for decades, but Hartford was his community," 16 June 2019 The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests points out on its website that many states have set up hotlines for victims to report clergy abuse. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "2 Catholic orders name 65 priests accused or convicted of abuse; 27 served in Arizona," 15 June 2019

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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Statistics for clergy

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for clergy

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

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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

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Comments on clergy

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