plural priests
: someone who is 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 clergyperson ranking below a bishop and above a deacon

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 Along tidy village roads, Muslim women cloaked in body-length black niqabs walk past Hindu priests resting under sacred fig trees. Gerry Shih, Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2023 On Friday, Francis gathered with Marseille priests at the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica and then led an interfaith prayer at its nearby memorial, which stands on a rocky outcropping overlooking Marseille and the Mediterranean. Nicole Winfield and Sylvie Corbet The Associated Press, Arkansas Online, 23 Sep. 2023 After Marcos’s injury, the priest at the Catholic church near Dreamland announced a collection for him during Mass. Hannah Dreier Meridith Kohut, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 The Pope was bringing the priest back from the margins, and joining his own Asian journey to Teilhard’s. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 Tenochtitlán is home to 200,000 farmers, artisans, merchants, soldiers, priests, and aristocrats. WIRED, 17 Sep. 2023 The rites are done in a few seconds, the priest present for a few minutes. Viet Thanh Nguyen, The New Yorker, 9 Sep. 2023 He was joined in his work there by the Rev. Joseph C. Verrett, a Josephite priest who held a doctorate in clinical psychology and was its executive director and clinical director. Frederick N. Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2023 Emma visits a priest and schedules a baptism in the last-ditch hope that maybe the Holy Spirit can intercede in whatever’s going on in her life. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 7 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'priest.' 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 preist, from Old English prēost, ultimately from Late Latin presbyter — more at presbyter

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near priest

Cite this Entry

“Priest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

Old English prēost "priest," derived from Latin presbyter "priest, elder," from Greek presbyteros, comparative form of presbys "old man, elder"

More from Merriam-Webster on priest

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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