Definition of layman
- The parish council consisted of both clergy and laymen.
- For a layman, he knows a lot about the law.
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For a layman, he knows a lot about the law.
He's an important layman in his church.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'layman.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Layman began its run in English as the open compound "lay man." In this context, "lay" is an adjective that can mean "belonging or relating to those not in holy orders," "not of the clergy," and "not ecclesiastical." The origins of "lay" and "layman" can be traced back through French and Late Latin to Greek laikos, meaning "of the people." Layman was originally used to distinguish between non-clerical people and the clergy, but it was soon also being used to distinguish non-professionals from professionals in a field (such as law or medicine). In a similar fashion, the collective noun "laity" originally referred to non-clerical people but came to also mean "persons not of a particular profession."
: a person who is not a member of a particular profession
: a person who belongs to a religion but is not a priest, minister, etc.
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subject to rapid or unexpected change
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