|Very Reverend Right Reverend See also Most Reverend Rev., Abbreviations: Revd a title of respect for a clergyman|
|usage Reverend with a surname alone (Reverend Smith), as a term of address (``Yes, Reverend''), or in the salutation of a letter (Dear Rev. Mr Smith) are all generally considered to be wrong usage. Preferred are (the) Reverend John Smith or Reverend Mr Smith and Dear Mr Smith|
the ordinary English prefix of written address to the names of ministers of most Christian denominations. In the 15th century it was used as a general term of respectful address, but it has been habitually used as a title prefixed to the names of ordained clergymen since the 17th century. In the Church of England, prefects apostolic who are not in episcopal orders (e.g., deans, provosts, cathedral canons, rectors of seminaries and colleges, and priors and prioresses) are addressed as "very reverend." Bishops, abbots, abbesses, and vicars-general are addressed as "right reverend," and archbishops and (in Roman Catholicism) cardinals are addressed as "most reverend." The moderator of the Church of Scotland is also styled "right reverend." Carthusians use the title "reverend" only for their prior-general; all other Carthusian priests are styled "venerable father." While, strictly speaking, the term is an adjective to be followed by "Doctor" or "Mister," its common usage has made it a noun.
Learn more about reverend with a free trial on Britannica.com.