an altar attendant in public worship.
Roman Catholic Church.
a member of the highest-ranking of the four minor orders.
the order itself. Compare exorcist ( def 2 ), lector ( def 2 ), ostiary ( def 1 ).
any attendant, assistant, or follower.

1275–1325; Middle English acolite < Medieval Latin acolytus < Greek akólouthos follower, attendant, equivalent to a- prefix denoting association + -kolouthos, variant of kéleuthos road, journey Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
acolyte (ˈækəˌlaɪt)
1.  a follower or attendant
2.  Christianity an officer who attends or assists a priest
[C16: via Old French and Medieval Latin from Greek akolouthos a follower]

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

early 14c., "inferior officer in the church," from M.L. acolytus, from Gk. akolouthos "following, attending on," lit. "having one way," from a- copulative prefix + keleuthose "a way, road, path, track," from PIE *qeleu- (cf. Lith. kelias "way").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(from Greek akolouthos, "server," "companion," or "follower"), in the Roman Catholic church, a person is installed in a ministry in order to assist the deacon and priest in liturgical celebrations, especially the eucharistic liturgy. The first probable reference to the office dates from the time of Pope Victor I (189-199), and it was mentioned frequently in Roman documents after the 4th century. Acolytes also existed in North Africa but were unknown outside Rome and North Africa until the 10th century, when they were introduced throughout the Western Church. The Council of Trent (1545-63) defined the order and hoped to reactivate it on the pastoral level, but it became only a preparatory rite, or minor order, leading to the priesthood. A directive of Pope Paul VI (effective Jan. 1, 1973) decreed that the office of acolyte should no longer be called a minor order but a ministry and that it should be open to laymen.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He had served as an acolyte and dreamed of becoming a teacher or lawyer.
Well, let's have them take a third---a particularly odd new hire who is their acolyte.
He quickly morphed from wide-eyed acolyte into colleague and drinking buddy.
But ask a free market acolyte why this is, and they'll point to lack of skills and initiative to explain away the unemployed.
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