la·​ity ˈlā-ə-tē How to pronounce laity (audio)
: the people of a religious faith as distinguished from its clergy
The laity has played an important role in the history of the church.
: the mass of the people as distinguished from those of a particular profession or those specially skilled
writers who can interpret this wholeness both to their colleagues and the laityP. B. Sears

Example Sentences

a member of the laity The laity has played an important role in the history of the church.
Recent Examples on the Web Many guests were also invited as observers, which included prominent Catholic laity and representatives from other Christian churches. Joanne M. Pierce, The Conversation, 4 Nov. 2022 This recent cultural shift in Western nations has raised difficult questions for Catholics, both clergy and laity. Joanne M. Pierce, The Conversation, 4 Nov. 2022 The Synodal Path in Germany, an ongoing national consultation of bishops and laity, has pressed for progressive changes in doctrine and discipline. Carl R. Trueman, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 Both laity and high-ranking clerics helped cover it up, some even participating by holding the victim down. Audrey Clare Farley, The New Republic, 13 Dec. 2022 Traditional Catholics distrust Pope Francis’s Synod on Synodality, a global listening effort, as a project to surreptitiously change church teaching, which has seemingly over-represented the input of disaffected laity. Carl R. Trueman, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 Another task, in the midst of a clergy shortage, is to lift up the laity to take greater responsibility for their own communities. Hartford Courant, 13 Oct. 2022 For the next seventy years, the esoteric practice slowly spread among the Buddhist laity. David Kortava, Harper's Magazine, 16 Mar. 2021 Her defection from a youthful spell as a novice nun is both a credential of her expertise and a qualification for talking to the laity. Dominic Green, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


lay entry 5

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of laity was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near laity

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition


la·​ity ˈlā-ət-ē How to pronounce laity (audio)
plural laities
: the people of a religious faith who are not members of its clergy
: persons not of a particular profession

More from Merriam-Webster on laity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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