Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!
c.1200, clergie "office or dignity of a clergyman," from two Old French words: 1. clergié "clerics, learned men," from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus (see clerk); 2. clergie "learning, knowledge, erudition," from clerc, also from Late Latin clericus. Meaning "persons ordained for religious work" is from c.1300.
a body of ordained ministers in a Christian church. In the Roman Catholic Church and in the Church of England, the term includes the orders of bishop, priest, and deacon. Until 1972, in the Roman Catholic Church, clergy also included several lower orders