cler·​i·​cal | \ ˈkler-i-kəl How to pronounce clerical (audio) , ˈkle-ri-\

Definition of clerical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the clergy
2 : of or relating to a clerk



Definition of clerical (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a member of the clergy
3 : clerk
4 clericals plural : clerical garments

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Other Words from clerical


clerically \ ˈkler-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce clerically (audio) , ˈkle-​ri-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for clerical

Synonyms: Adjective

clerkly, ministerial, pastoral, priestly, sacerdotal

Synonyms: Noun

clergyperson, cleric, clerk, deacon, divine, dominie, ecclesiastic, minister, preacher, priest, reverend

Antonyms: Adjective

lay, nonclerical, secular, temporal

Antonyms: Noun

layman, layperson, secular

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Examples of clerical in a Sentence


She spent the summer doing clerical work for a lawyer. a member of our clerical staff The mistake was due to a clerical error.


some of the state's most prominent clericals have spoken out against the measure
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an address in Los Angeles on Sunday, castigated Iran’s clerical leaders and called on other countries to join the U.S. campaign of pressure and sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, "Trump and Iran Leader Swap Taunts as Sanctions Loom," 23 July 2018 Last year, the Iranians also named the street where the Saudi Arabian Embassy sits after Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a clerical leader from the Shiite Muslim minority who was executed in the kingdom. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "U.S. and Russia Revive Cold-War Game of Provocative Street Names," 12 Feb. 2018 Property owners can appeal their assessment for a number of reasons, from clerical errors to disagreeing with the market value. Katie Honan, WSJ, "NYC Council Bill Would Save Commercial Landlords Cash in a Property-Tax Appeal," 27 Jan. 2019 Vatanka said the fundamental question about Iran’s relationship with the United States is whether the hard-line clerical establishment that runs the Islamic Republic sincerely seeks a diplomatic rapprochement. Ramin Mostaghim,, "Remember the 'axis of evil'? There's one member left, and its chances for a Trump summit look dim," 14 June 2018 The Revolutionary Guard was created after the Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the ruling clerical establishment and answerable to the country’s most powerful man, the supreme leader. NBC News, "Pompeo's Iran sanctions vow deserves a 'punch,' Revolutionary Guard commander says," 22 May 2018 Last fall, the Communist Party leadership visited Mr. Sadr at his headquarters in Najaf, the home of Iraq’s clerical establishment. Margaret Coker, New York Times, "Once Hated by U.S. and Tied to Iran, Is Sadr Now ‘Face of Reform’ in Iraq?," 20 May 2018 But even among moderates in Iran’s clerical establishment, there seems to be little interest in such far-reaching changes, which would spell the end of the Islamic Republic. Washington Post, "As economic problems pile up, Iran cautiously weighs changes," 10 Mar. 2018 The clerical regime could still be developing nuclear technology and the Central Intelligence Agency likely wouldn’t know. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, "Tehran Counts on a Divided West," 12 Dec. 2018

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


1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for clerical

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clerical

The first known use of clerical was in 1592

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More Definitions for clerical



English Language Learners Definition of clerical

: of or relating to a clerk or office worker
: of or relating to members of the clergy


cler·​i·​cal | \ ˈkler-i-kəl How to pronounce clerical (audio) \

Kids Definition of clerical

1 : relating to the clergy The minister wore his clerical collar.
2 : relating to a clerk or office worker the clerical staff

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More from Merriam-Webster on clerical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clerical

Spanish Central: Translation of clerical

Nglish: Translation of clerical for Spanish Speakers

Comments on clerical

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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