pre·​cen·​tor pri-ˈsen-tər How to pronounce precentor (audio)
: a leader of the singing of a choir or congregation
precentorial adjective
precentorship 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'precentor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1516, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of precentor was in 1516


Dictionary Entries Near precentor

Cite this Entry

“Precentor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

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