prel·​ate | \ ˈpre-lət How to pronounce prelate (audio) also ˈprē-ˌlāt \

Definition of prelate

: an ecclesiastic (such as a bishop or abbot) of superior rank

Examples of prelate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Victims hope that the criminal trial of the former prelate will send a strong signal that no one, no matter how powerful, is above the law. CBS News, 3 Sep. 2021 Burke, a cardinal prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, was scheduled to participate in several Masses over the past few weeks at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, which was founded by Burke. Jennifer Henderson And Polo Sandoval, CNN, 16 Aug. 2021 Bishop Reginald Jackson, the presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME), which includes over 500 churches in Georgia, also applauded the Justice Department on Friday. Alexander Mallin, ABC News, 25 June 2021 Bishop Brandon Porter, pastor of Greater Community Temple COGIC in North Memphis and jurisdictional prelate of the Tennessee Central Jurisdiction. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 22 Mar. 2021 In 2000, she was consecrated as a presiding prelate, a high-ranking office within the Christian church. Brooklyn White, Essence, 21 Dec. 2020 The Roman Catholic bishop of Orange County is suing a former charity administrator for libel, an escalation in the prelate’s dispute with influential church philanthropists who have complained to the Vatican about his firing of a nonprofit board. Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2020 This is the second case to emerge in the pope’s own home, after a prelate tested positive last March. Claire Giangravé | Relion News Service, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Oct. 2020 Cardinal Becciu seemed a prelate on the rise in the Francis pontificate, often traveling with the pope. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 24 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of prelate

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prelate

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About prelate

Time Traveler for prelate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prelate



prelate nullius

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prelate

Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prelate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prelate



English Language Learners Definition of prelate

: a high-ranking Christian priest : a bishop, cardinal, etc.


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!