an ecclesiastic of a high order, as an archbishop, bishop, etc.; a church dignitary.

1175–1225; Middle English prelat < Medieval Latin praelātus a civil or ecclesiastical dignitary, noun use of Latin praelātus (past participle of praeferre to prefer), equivalent to prae- pre- + lātus, suppletive past participle of ferre to bear1

prelateship, noun
prelatic [pri-lat-ik] , adjective
nonprelatic, adjective
unprelatic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
prelate (ˈprɛlɪt)
a Church dignitary of high rank, such as a cardinal, bishop, or abbot
[C13: from Old French prélat, from Church Latin praelātus, from Latin praeferre to hold in special esteem, prefer]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, from M.L. prelatus "clergyman of high rank," from L. prelatus "one preferred," from prælatus, serving as pp. of præferre (see prefer), from præ "before" + latus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


an ecclesiastical dignitary of high rank. In the modern Roman Catholic church, prelates are those who exercise the public power of the church. True prelacy is defined as "preeminence with jurisdiction," and true, or real, prelates are distinguished as (1) greater prelates, those who possess episcopal jurisdiction (such as patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops), and (2) lesser prelates, those who possess a quasi-episcopal or other jurisdiction (such as abbots and prelates "of no diocese" and religious superiors, withdrawn from the ordinary diocesan jurisdiction).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The prelate found their invectives groundless, except that the want of a priest
  was a real defect in the community.
The individual-prince or prelate, patrician or professor-stands for the
For diplomats present the prelate's words were laced with meaning.
Throttlebottom looks mighty absurd in those prelate's vestments.
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