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[kler-i-kuh l] /ˈklɛr ɪ kəl/
of, pertaining to, appropriate for, or assigned to an office clerk or clerks:
a clerical job.
doing the work of a clerk or clerks:
a clerical assistant; a clerical staff.
of, relating to, or characteristic of the clergy or a member of the clergy:
clerical garb.
advocating the power or influence of the clergy in politics, government, etc.:
a clerical party.
a cleric.
clericals, Informal. clerical garments.
a person or a party advocating the power or influence of the church in politics, government, etc.
a person who does clerical work; office worker; clerk.
Also called clerical error. a minor error, as in the keeping of records, the transcribing of documents, or the handling of correspondence.
Origin of clerical
late Middle English
1425-75 for sense “learned”; 1585-95 for def 3; late Middle English < Late Latin clēricālis, equivalent to clēric(us) cleric + -ālis -al1
Related forms
clericality, noun
clerically, adverb
interclerical, adjective
nonclerical, adjective, noun
nonclerically, adverb
preclerical, adjective
proclerical, adjective
pseudoclerical, adjective
pseudoclerically, adverb
quasi-clerical, adjective
quasi-clerically, adverb
semiclerical, adjective
semiclerically, adverb
unclerical, adjective
unclerically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for clerical
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Worst of all, however, in their effect were the restrictions to the clerical Order.

    Oxford and Her Colleges Goldwin Smith
  • She had never seen him in his clerical dress, so she could not have recognised him yet.

    The Missionary George Griffith
  • He arrived there just in time to see the doors flung open to let in an army of clerical men and women for the day.

    Edith and John Franklin S. Farquhar
  • It is true that his practical experience of his clerical life was very slender.

    Great Astronomers R. S. Ball
  • The clerical schools were no less important than the lay, but less distinctive because their fellows existed north of the Alps.

British Dictionary definitions for clerical


relating to or associated with the clergy: clerical dress
of or relating to office clerks or their work: a clerical error
supporting or advocating clericalism
Derived Forms
clerically, adverb
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 clerical

1590s, "pertaining to the clergy," from cleric + -al (1), or from French clérical, from Old French clerigal "learned," from Latin clericalis, from clericus (see cleric). Meaning "pertaining to clerks" is from 1798.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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