Word Origin & History
late 13c., from Anglo-Fr. paroche, parosse (late 11c.), from O.Fr. paroisse, from L.L. parochia "a diocese," alteration of Late Gk. paroikia "a diocese or parish," from paroikos "a sojourner" (in Christian writers), in classical Gk. "neighbor," from para- "near" + oikos "house" (see
). Sense development unclear, perhaps from "sojourner" as epithet of early Christians as spiritual sojourners in the material world. In early Church writing the word was used in a more general sense than Gk. diokesis, though by 13c. they were synonymous. Replaced O.E. preostscyr, lit. "priest-shire."