1 : one who assists a member of the clergy in a liturgical service by performing minor duties
2 : one who attends or assists : follower
Did You Know?
Follow the etymological path of "acolyte" back far enough and you'll arrive at "keleuthos," a Greek noun that means "path" and that is itself the parent of "akolouthos," an adjective that means "following." "Akolouthos" traveled from Greek, leaving offspring in Medieval Latin and Anglo-French, and its descendant, "acolyte," emerged in English in the 14th century. Originally, it was exclusively a term for a person who assisted a priest at Mass, but by the 19th century "acolyte" had acquired additional meanings, among them "attendant body, satellite" (a meaning used in astronomy) and "attendant insect" (a zoological sense), as well as the general meaning "assistant" or "sidekick."
The lawyer arrived with one of her acolytes, an eager young attorney who looked at her with obvious admiration.
"The abbess's rank is clear -- below the masters, above the acolytes -- but Housekeeper Satsuki shoulders more duties than she enjoys privileges." -- From David Mitchell's 2010 novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
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