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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The prelate had been holed up at the residence in Matagalpa for two weeks, rationing food as police posted outside wouldn’t allow supplies to be brought in. Juan Montes, WSJ, 19 Aug. 2022 The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of India's caste system, to become a cardinal. Frances D'emilio,, 27 Aug. 2022 The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of India’s caste system, to become a cardinal. Frances D'emilio, al, 27 Aug. 2022 Because of the bishop’s place in the hierarchy, the church has struggled for years to construct a system of checks and balances that will boost the likelihood that a prelate accused of a coverup can be investigated and potentially disciplined. Alain Uaykani, Washington Post, 15 July 2022 Archbishop Cordileone isn’t the first American prelate to bar a Catholic politician from the sacrament. J.d. Flynn, WSJ, 22 May 2022 The prelate’s abduction prompted fresh concerns over Nigeria’s worsening security as there are numerous kidnappings and the military battles a decade-long extremist insurgency in the northeast and widespread banditry in the northwest. Chinedu Asadu, ajc, 3 June 2022 The Catholic prelate, age 90, was arrested and charged with violating the city’s national security law. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 May 2022 The prelate was allowed to resume pastoral work, a decision that the church said was made by a lower-ranking official without consulting the archbishop. Fox News, 20 Jan. 2022 See More

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

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 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



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