pri·​or·​ess ˈprī-ə-rəs How to pronounce prioress (audio)
: a nun corresponding in rank to a prior

Examples of prioress in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Matrix by Lauren Groff Currents of violence and devotion coalesce around Marie de France, a 17-year-old sent to be the new prioress of a 12th-century English abbey. Mia Barzilay Freund, Vogue, 29 Mar. 2024 It’s set in the twelfth century, and is about a young Frenchwoman, Marie de France, the illegitimate offspring of royalty, who is sent to England by Eleanor of Aquitaine and becomes the prioress of an abbey. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, 27 Apr. 2021 Siemen is the order's prioress, or leader. Laura Ly and Theresa Waldrop, CNN, 30 Jan. 2021 Sister Maria Christine, prioress of the monastery, said the Dominican order’s goal is to upgrade and expand on the mission that the nuns began nearly 100 years ago: providing a peaceful oasis for silent prayer and contemplation. Deborah Netburnstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2022 Seventeen-year-old Marie de France is cast out of the royal court to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey in medieval Europe and finds purpose and love in her newfound devotion to the sisters. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, 11 Dec. 2021 The author, whose previous fiction has probed contemporary American communities, sets this novel in an impoverished twelfth-century English abbey, where the protagonist, Marie, is sent at the age of seventeen to be prioress. The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021 An embarrassment to the crown, with her ungainly physical presence making for a too-visible testimony to historical indiscretions, she is dispatched by Eleanor of Aquitaine to be the prioress of an abbey in bleakest, dampest England. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 7 Sep. 2021 The queen is sending Marie—an ungainly girl with large bones, and an illegitimate Plantagenet child to boot—to a far-off and troubled abbey, where Marie will become prioress. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 2 Sep. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prioress.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prioress was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near prioress

Cite this Entry

“Prioress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pri·​or·​ess ˈprī-ə-rəs How to pronounce prioress (audio)
: a nun who is head of a priory

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