pre·​cen·​tor | \ pri-ˈsen-tər How to pronounce precentor (audio) \

Definition of precentor

: a leader of the singing of a choir or congregation

Other Words from precentor

precentorial \ ˌprē-​ˌsen-​ˈtȯr-​ē-​əl How to pronounce precentor (audio) \ adjective
precentorship \ pri-​ˈsen-​tər-​ˌship How to pronounce precentor (audio) \ noun

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The history of "precentor" leads to the Latin verb praecinere, meaning "to lead in singing," which was formed by adding the "prae-" prefix to the verb "canere" ("to sing"). "Canere" is also an ancestor of the English word chant, as well as the source of the Latin noun cantor, which was also borrowed into English and is used both as a synonym of "precentor" and for an individual in a synagogue who sings or chants the liturgical music and leads the congregation in prayer.

Examples of precentor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Along with the rest of the staff, these musicians continue to be paid, says Scott Dettra, precentor and director of music at the church. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 6 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precentor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of precentor

1516, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for precentor

Latin praecentor, from praecinere to lead in singing, from prae- + canere to sing — more at chant

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The first known use of precentor was in 1516

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Cite this Entry

“Precentor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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