prel·​ate ˈpre-lət How to pronounce prelate (audio)
 also  ˈprē-ˌlāt
: an ecclesiastic (such as a bishop or abbot) of superior rank

Examples of prelate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The new archbishop would become Milwaukee's 12th prelate, overseeing a 10-county archdiocese in southeast Wisconsin with 187 parishes and 101 schools. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 12 Mar. 2024 Pell, maintaining his innocence, served over 13 months in Australian prison as his attorneys appealed the case to the High Court of Australia, which ruled unanimously (7-0) to overturn the conviction and quash all charges against the prelate. Timothy H.j. Nerozzi Fox News, Fox News, 23 Dec. 2023 Those measures drew attention, but the punishment of the prelates from the United States, a country whose clerics the Argentine pontiff has long been skeptical of, has touched a conservative nerve. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2023 This punishment was handed down after a number of highly critical statement and actions the American prelate had made towards the pope, particularly his efforts to make the church more welcoming to the LGBTQ community and to give more responsibility to women and lay-people (non-priests). William Skipworth, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 The Vatican filed a letter to German bishops prohibiting the prelates' attempts to change doctrine that condemns homosexual relationships and female clergy. Timothy H.j. Nerozzi Fox News, Fox News, 25 Nov. 2023 On Wednesday, Dedham District Court Judge Paul McCallum ruled that the disgraced prelate was unfit to stand trial and dismissed the charges. Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner, 30 Aug. 2023 Earlier this year, the Hong Kong bishop, who, like Francis, is a Jesuit, made the first visit to mainland China in nearly 30 years by a prelate in that post. Frances D'emilio,, 9 July 2023 In its several major and minor breakings of classic form, the leading prelate, Archbishop Justin Welby, deftly quoted the now-classic Elizabeth II declaration of a lifetime of service. Guy Martin, Forbes, 6 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prelate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English prelat, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin praelatus, literally, one receiving preferment, from Latin (past participle of praeferre to prefer), from prae- + latus, past participle of ferre to carry — more at tolerate, bear

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prelate was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near prelate

Cite this Entry

“Prelate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


prel·​ate ˈprel-ət How to pronounce prelate (audio)
: a high-ranking member of the clergy (as a bishop)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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