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[kler-ik] /ˈklɛr ɪk/
a member of the clergy.
a member of a clerical party.
clerics, (used with a plural verb) half-sized or small-sized reading glasses worn on the nose, usually rimless or with a thin metal frame.
pertaining to the clergy; clerical.
Origin of cleric
1615-25; < Late Latin clēricus priest < Greek klērikós, equivalent to klêr(os) lot, allotment + -ikos -ic
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cleric
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The O'Corras went to ask the cleric about himself and about the island.

  • A cleric who married flinched from the standard of his calling, in the view of the church.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • A cleric declares that he was at heart not a bad child but had been harmed by bad examples.

  • cleric said he thought Virgil, when he was dying at Brindisi, must have remembered that passage.

    My Antonia Willa Cather
  • No cleric shall utter or dictate a sentence of blood, or exercise capital jurisdiction, or be present where it is exercised.

British Dictionary definitions for cleric


a member of the clergy
Word Origin
C17: from Church Latin clēricus priest, clerk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cleric

1620s (also in early use as an adjective), from Church Latin clericus "clergyman, priest," noun use of adjective meaning "priestly, belonging to the clerus;" from Ecclesiastical Greek klerikos "pertaining to an inheritance," but in Greek Christian jargon by 2c., "of the clergy, belonging to the clergy," as opposed to the laity; from kleros "a lot, allotment; piece of land; heritage, inheritance," originally "a shard or wood chip used in casting lots," related to klan "to break" (see clastic).

Kleros was used by early Greek Christians for matters relating to ministry, based on Deut. xviii:2 reference to Levites as temple assistants: "Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance," kleros being used as a translation of Hebrew nahalah "inheritance, lot." Or else it is from the use of the word in Acts i:17. A word taken up in English after clerk (n.) shifted to its modern meaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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