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Prester John

[pres-ter] /ˈprɛs tər/
noun
1.
a legendary Christian monk and potentate of the Middle Ages, supposed to have had a kingdom in some remote part of Asia or Africa and associated with fabulous narratives of travel.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Prester John

Prester John

/ˈprɛstə/
noun
1.
a legendary Christian priest and king, believed in the Middle Ages to have ruled in the Far East, but identified in the 14th century with the king of Ethiopia
Word Origin
C14 Prestre Johan, from Medieval Latin presbyter Iohannes Priest John
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 Prester John

c.1300, Prestre Johan, legendary medieval Christian king and priest, said to have ruled either in the Far East or Ethiopia. From Vulgar Latin *prester, a transition between Latin presbyter and English priest. First mentioned in the West by mid-12c. chronicler Otto of Freising, who told how Johannes Presbyter won a great victory over the Persians and the Medes. Between 1165 and 1177 a forged letter purporting to be from him circulated in Europe. All this recalls the time when the Christian West was culturally backwards and militarily threatened, dreaming of a mythical deliverer. Cf. Old French prestre Jehan (13c.), Italian prete Gianni.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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