1620s, from L.L. clericus
"clergyman, priest" (4c.), lit. "belonging to the clerus
;" from Gk. klerikos
, originally "pertaining to an inheritance," in Christian use "pertaining to the ecclesiastical order," from kleros
"lot, allotment, piece of land, heritage," which was in Church use from 2c. (see clerk
). A word taken up in Mod.Eng. after clerk
took its modern meaning.