(in Christianity) a man who has withdrawn from the world for religious reasons, especially as a member of an order of cenobites living according to a particular rule and under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
(in any religion) a man who is a member of a monastic order: a Buddhist monk.
Printing. a dark area on a printed page caused by uneven inking of the plate or type. Compare friar ( def 2 ).

before 900; Middle English; Old English munuc < Late Latin monachus < Greek monachós hermit, noun use of adj.: solitary, equivalent to món(os) alone + -achos adj. suffix

1. brother. Monk, friar refer to members of special male groups whose lives are devoted to the service of the church, especially in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox denominations. A monk is properly a member of a monastery, under a superior; he is bound by a vow of stability, and is a co-owner of the community property of the monastery. Since the Reformation, monk and friar have been used as if they were the same. A friar is, however, strictly speaking, a member of a mendicant order, whose members are not attached to a monastery and own no community property. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
monk (mʌŋk)
1.  a male member of a religious community bound by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedienceRelated: monastic
2.  (sometimes capital) a fancy pigeon having a bald pate and often large feathered feet
Related: monastic
[Old English munuc, from Late Latin monachus, from Late Greek: solitary (man), from Greek monos alone]

Monk (mʌŋk)
1.  Thelonious (Sphere) (θəˈləʊnɪəs). 1920--82, US jazz pianist and composer
2.  a variant spelling of (George) Monck

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. munuc, from P.Gmc. *muniko- (cf. O.Fris. munek, M.Du. monic, O.H.G. munih, Ger. Mönch), an early borrowing from V.L. *monicus (cf. Fr. moine, Sp. monje, It. monaco), from L.L. monachus "monk," originally "religious hermit," from Late Gk. monakhos "monk," noun use of a classical Gk. adj. meaning
"solitary," from monos "alone" (see mono-).
"In England, before the Reformation, the term was not applied to the members of the mendicant orders, who were always called friars. From the 16th c. to the 19th c., however, it was usual to speak of the friars as a class of monks. In recent times the distinction between the terms has been carefully observed by well-informed writers. In Fr. and Ger. the equivalent of monk is applied equally to 'monks' and 'friars.' " [OED]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

monks definition

Men under religious vows who live in a community and whose work is usually centered on their community, which is called a monastery. Buddhism and Christianity have notable groups of monks. In Christianity, the monks are members of religious orders.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Within this redoubt, monks pray and conduct their services, as they have for almost.
On one wall, monks fight with feet and clenched fists in a cloistered garden.
Medieval monks may have been more gluttonous than godly.
In addition, plenty of younger brothers become monks rather than settle for
  being junior husbands.
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