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[ak-uh-lahyt] /ˈæk əˌlaɪt/
an altar attendant in public worship.
Roman Catholic Church.
  1. a member of the highest-ranking of the four minor orders.
  2. 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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for acolytes
  • TiVo acolytes won't mind, but others might find its rough edges a little grating.
  • After all, despite some of the over enthusiasms of their acolytes they were never believers that biology dictated all.
  • The acolytes of the market will propagandize it as the best of progress.
  • Her acolytes and apologists aren't going to evaluate or criticize anything she says.
  • His acolytes in the press are best joke fodder of all.
  • acolytes of the accused's powerful family bribed and threatened witnesses.
  • The prime minister and his acolytes are convinced that many vulnerable children could benefit.
  • Moreover, if better health is what the running-machine acolytes are looking for, the gym is not always the place to find it.
  • If they had few successors, they had plenty of acolytes.
British Dictionary definitions for acolytes


a follower or attendant
(Christianity) an officer who attends or assists a priest
Word Origin
C16: via Old French and Medieval Latin from Greek akolouthos a follower
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 acolytes



early 14c., "inferior officer in the church," from Old French acolite or directly from Medieval Latin acolytus (Late Latin acoluthos), from Greek akolouthos "following, attending on," literally "having one way," from a- "together with," copulative prefix, + keleuthose "a way, road, path, track," from PIE *qeleu- (cf. Lithuanian kelias "way"). In late Old English as a Latin word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for acolytes


(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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