an ecclesiastic of a high order, as an archbishop, bishop, etc.; a church dignitary.
Origin: 1175–1225;Middle Englishprelat < Medieval Latinpraelātus a civil or ecclesiastical dignitary, noun use of Latinpraelātus (past participle of praeferre to prefer), equivalent to prae-pre- + lātus, suppletive past participle of ferre to bear1
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.)).