\ ˈprēst How to pronounce priest (audio) \

Definition of priest

: one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God specifically : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking below a bishop and above a deacon

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of priest in a Sentence

He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. searched for a priest who could perform an exorcism

Recent Examples on the Web

Diocese of Phoenix weighs in The Diocese of Phoenix began publishing lists of priests accused or convicted of abusing children in 2012. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "2 Catholic orders name 65 priests accused or convicted of abuse; 27 served in Arizona," 15 June 2019 The best, most high-fashion look of the night was actually that of the priests, though, who wore emo-looking black robes inspired by Issey Miyake’s geometric Bao Bao bag. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Jesus Christ Superstar," 2 Apr. 2018 Just before leaving, he was given a 2-foot-tall crucifix by his parish priest and nuns from St. Mary's Cathedral in Fall River, Mass. Shovelton would die soon afterward as a crew member of the bomber involved in the Palomar crash. J. Harry Jones,, "Memorial pays tribute to WW II Navy air crew that died in crash on Palomar Mountain," 26 May 2018 Historian Alison Weir explained that in medieval times, royal newlyweds were put to bed by their wedding guests, toasted, and then blessed by a bishop or priest. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "How Do Royals Spend Their Wedding Nights?," 10 May 2018 In the latest wave of violence to hit the middle belt region in recent months, two priests and 17 worshippers were killed Tuesday when armed men attacked a Catholic church during early morning mass in a remote village in Benue state. Bukola Adebayo And Stephanie Busari, CNN, "Nigerian lawmakers summon President Buhari over church killings," 26 Apr. 2018 Religious superstition and a malleable view of Christianity (which mostly just enabled a continuing terror of any outsiders) reigned, despite the fact that the lower classes of priests were also illiterate, and therefore could not read the Bible. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Notre Dame Is a Cruel Metaphor for Our World Right Now," 25 Apr. 2019 Hundreds of Catholic women priests are quietly leading their own progressive parishes—despite denouncements from the Vatican. Vogue, "Our Favorite Longreads From 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Perrault, a one-time pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Albuquerque, is one of many priests sent to New Mexico in the 1960s from around the country for treatment involving pedophilia. Fox News, "Priest who fled America blamed sex abuse on cancer he didn't have, officials say," 26 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'priest.' 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 priest

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for priest

Middle English preist, from Old English prēost, ultimately from Late Latin presbyter — more at presbyter

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about priest

Statistics for priest

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for priest

The first known use of priest was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for priest



English Language Learners Definition of priest

: a person who has the authority to lead or perform ceremonies in some religions and especially in some Christian religions


\ ˈprēst How to pronounce priest (audio) \

Kids Definition of priest

: a person who has the authority to lead or perform religious ceremonies

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on priest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with priest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for priest

Spanish Central: Translation of priest

Nglish: Translation of priest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of priest for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about priest

Comments on priest

What made you want to look up priest? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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