an official of a church charged with taking care of the edifice and its contents, ringing the bell, etc., and sometimes with burying the dead.
an official who maintains a synagogue and its religious articles, chants the designated portion of the Torah on prescribed days, and assists the cantor in conducting services on festivals.

1275–1325; Middle English sexteyn, sekesteyn, syncopated variant of segerstane, secristeyn < Anglo-French segerstaine sacristan

sextonship, noun
undersexton, noun

sextant, sextet, sexton. Unabridged


Anne (Harvey) 1928–74, U.S. poet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sexton (ˈsɛkstən)
1.  a person employed to act as caretaker of a church and its contents and graveyard, and often also as bell-ringer, gravedigger, etc
2.  another name for the burying beetle
[C14: from Old French secrestein, from Medieval Latin sacristānussacristan]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, sekesteyn, "person in charge of the sacred objects of a church," from O.Fr. segrestien, from M.L. sacristanus (see sacristan). Sense of "custodian of a church" first recorded 1582.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


church custodian charged with keeping the church and parish buildings prepared for meetings, caring for church equipment, and performing related minor duties such as ringing the bell and digging graves. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "sacristan," denoting a church officer who is specifically in charge of the sacristy and its sacred utensils and vestments but who also may perform the duties of sexton.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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