fri·​ar | \ ˈfrī(-ə)r How to pronounce friar (audio) \

Definition of friar

: a member of a mendicant order

Examples of friar in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For instance, the entire idea of California having a singular El Camino Real that ran like a central artery through the state — connecting the 21 missions and acting as a path for the Franciscan friars — is a 20th century reinvention. Julia Wick,, "Essential California: For whom the mission bell tolls," 21 June 2019 It was completed by the 1740s as a two-story convento, where Spanish friars lived and worked. Scott Huddleston,, "Alamo’s oldest wall being studied in ‘unprecedented’ digs," 13 Aug. 2019 Stanford last year removed prominent references on campus to Junipero Serra, the Catholic friar who founded the first missions in California. Tatiana Sanchez,, "As tensions flare over monuments, universities target California’s mission past," 4 July 2019 But there will also be a long-in-coming acknowledgment that our roots stretch back much further than that, and that there was a civilization here long before the soldiers and the friars showed up. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: San Diego celebrates 250 years with an overdue inclusive ceremony," 15 July 2019 Despite the viceroy’s instructions, the band of friars had zero interest in bartering. Bruce Berger, WSJ, "‘Escalante’s Dream’ Review: Long Road Through the West," 12 July 2019 Serra Mesa is named for Spanish friar Junipero Serra. Martina Schimitschek, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Kearny Mesa & Serra Mesa: Rich military history, and I’ll have a boba with that," 30 June 2019 In this sense the bishop may resemble the hapless Johann Tetzel, a 16th century German Dominican friar whose name has become synonymous with the corrupt sale of indulgences. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "When the Cardinal Sins," 30 July 2018 The friars were inspired to change the land’s use after Pope Francis wrote a letter in 2015 calling for action to combat climate change and pollution. Yvonne Wenger, Washington Post, "Baltimore’s Franciscan Center to farm land in Howard County to help feed the city’s poor," 1 May 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for friar

Middle English frere, fryer, from Anglo-French frere, friere, fraire literally, brother, from Latin fratr-, frater — more at brother

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about friar

Statistics for friar

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for friar

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for friar



English Language Learners Definition of friar

: a member of a men's Roman Catholic group who is poor and studies or teaches about Christianity


fri·​ar | \ ˈfrī-ər How to pronounce friar (audio) \

Kids Definition of friar

: a member of a Roman Catholic religious order for men

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on friar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with friar

Spanish Central: Translation of friar

Nglish: Translation of friar for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on friar

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


to spread over or through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

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!