fri·​ar ˈfrī(-ə)r How to pronounce friar (audio)
: a member of a mendicant order

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Ferrara’s latest feature has LeBoeuf playing an Italian friar who rose to prominence at a time when fascist powers began to take over Italy. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Feb. 2023 Yes, a priest or friar will come by each car or bike and bless the deceased’s picture with holy water. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Oct. 2022 To avoid the wedding, Juliet feigns death by drinking a potion supplied by the local friar that puts her into a deep sleep. San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Feb. 2023 Much of the material in the Black Legend derives from the polemics of the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 10 Oct. 2011 The skeletal remains of a Capuchin friar, holding a wooden cross, are reminiscent of the popular image of the Grim Reaper. Theo Zenou, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Feb. 2023 On February 17, 1600, Giordano Bruno, a mathematician and Dominican friar, was stripped naked and driven through the streets of Rome. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 17 Oct. 2011 Geronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan friar that got shipwrecked and captured by Maya years before, had also joined Cortés. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 13 Aug. 2021 Pope Nicholas IV, a Franciscan friar, commissioned the Nativity scene in 1292. Kathleen Brady, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'friar.' 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 frere, fryer, from Anglo-French frere, friere, fraire literally, brother, from Latin fratr-, frater — more at brother

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of friar was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near friar

Cite this Entry

“Friar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


fri·​ar ˈfrī(-ə)r How to pronounce friar (audio)
: a member of a Roman Catholic religious order for men
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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