priest·​ly | \ˈprēst-lē \

Definition of priestly 

1 : of or relating to a priest or the priesthood : sacerdotal

2 : characteristic of or befitting a priest

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Other Words from priestly

priestliness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for priestly


clerical, clerkly, ministerial, pastoral, sacerdotal


lay, nonclerical, secular, temporal

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Examples of priestly in a Sentence

He is a kind, priestly man. majestically robed in priestly garments

Recent Examples on the Web

To find clergy, Soroka traveled to Ukraine where priestly vocations are thriving. Kristin E. Holmes,, "The archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Philadelphia retires and goes home," 10 June 2018 El Bosque generated some 30 priests and four bishops before Karadima was removed from ministry and a priestly society affiliated with El Bosque was closed. Nicole Winfield,, "Pope Francis digs deeper into roots of Chile sex abuse scandal," 2 June 2018 Cecelia Price, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese has made priestly vocations a priority for years, which is why a large number were ordained Saturday. Shannon Hall, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville archdiocese ordains 5 priests, the most in 18 years," 26 May 2018 Father Kiely, who began his priestly life at Holy Family Parish in Duxbury, said Nieme, who speaks in heavily accented English, will need to work on his communication skills. Thomas Farragher,, "As a child, he tended sheep in the Congo. Now, he’ll tend souls in Boston," 1 May 2018 And then Frank Daly will be ready for the investiture, bestowing upon this man from the Congo his proper priestly vestments. Thomas Farragher,, "As a child, he tended sheep in the Congo. Now, he’ll tend souls in Boston," 1 May 2018 The job includes offering an opening prayer when the House of Representatives is in session, and providing priestly counsel to those in the legislative body. Sabrina Eaton,, "Ohio Congress members question forced resignation of House of Representatives chaplain," 27 Apr. 2018 He is joined by parochial vicar the Rev. Philip Ilg, who arrived at St. Mary’s on his 30th birthday in 2016 for his first priestly assignment, and who leads the youth group and plays guitar. Mary Schneidau Sullivan, Laurel Leader, "A church with staying power," 19 Apr. 2018 The problem of priestly abuse might indeed be the sturdiest link between Francis and Benedict—and a lingering reminder that what has most grievously afflicted the Church in recent decades came not from the outer world, but from within. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Will Pope Francis Cause a Schism in the Catholic Church?," 7 Sep. 2015

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

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First Known Use of priestly

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for priestly

The first known use of priestly was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of priestly

: of or relating to a priest or to priests as a group : like a priest

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Comments on priestly

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


a private place of worship

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