tonsure

noun
ton·​sure | \ ˈtän(t)-shər How to pronounce tonsure (audio) \

Definition of tonsure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the Roman Catholic or Eastern rite of admission to the clerical state by the clipping or shaving of a portion of the head
2 : the shaven crown or patch worn by monks and other clerics
3 : a bald spot resembling a tonsure

tonsure

verb
tonsured; tonsuring\ ˈtän(t)-​sh(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce tonsure (audio) \

Definition of tonsure (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to shave the head of especially : to confer the tonsure upon

Examples of tonsure in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Instead, its hair is black, like mine, and raggedly scuttles onto his forehead like the tonsure of a Tibetan yak left out in the rain. Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: Leggo my Lego," 9 July 2020

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

First Known Use of tonsure

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1706, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tonsure

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin tonsura, from Latin, act of shearing, from tonsus, past participle of tondēre to shear — more at tome

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tonsure

Time Traveler for tonsure

Time Traveler

The first known use of tonsure was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for tonsure

Cite this Entry

“Tonsure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tonsure. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tonsure

tonsure

noun
How to pronounce tonsure (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tonsure

: a round, shaved area on the top of a priest's or monk's head

More from Merriam-Webster on tonsure

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tonsure

Comments on tonsure

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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