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

The fund will also support the work of black alumni and clergy in historically black congregations. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Introducing The Loop, Fortune’s Newsletter on Sustainability: raceAhead," 10 Sep. 2019 Sweeney has said the practice started because some nights the council didn’t have a clergy person lined up to lead a prayer. Robert Higgs,, "In God we trust: Councilman urges that Cleveland City Council again open its meetings with prayer," 6 Sep. 2019 In their heyday members of the merchant class were considered grubby hucksters—at least by Europe’s medieval nobility and clergy. The Economist, "Shopify and the return of the merchant class," 31 Aug. 2019 The ceremony in Jining seemed to signal that Beijing was willing to make compromises as part of the 2018 deal, which was signed last year to facilitate appointing new clergy. Ian Johnson, New York Times, "In Landmark Ceremony, a Catholic Bishop Is Installed in China," 28 Aug. 2019 Where politicians cannot enter, leave it to the clergy. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, "In a Community Turned Upside Down by Tragedy, ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Are Everything," 13 Aug. 2019 Anderson was surprised to hear Mosley tell the clergy gathered that Methodist does not sue patients who earn less than $50,000. Wendi C. Thomas, ProPublica, "Stop Suing Patients, Advocates Advise Memphis Nonprofit Hospital System," 30 July 2019 Among the offenses at which Burke takes aim is the seizure of Catholic Church property, which the sans-culottes had justified on grounds that the clergy was oppressive and corrupt. Liam Warner, WSJ, "Reparations and the Spirit of 1789," 11 July 2019 Park Ridge emergency responders, students, local clergy and residents reflected on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks during an annual morning ceremony at City Hall. Jennifer Johnson,, "Park Ridge community, first responders reflect on 9/11 anniversary during annual ceremony," 13 Sep. 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

15 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clergy

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

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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

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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 wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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