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early 15c., from Latin venerabilis, from venerari "to worship, revere" (see veneration). As a title, used in reference to ecclesiastics or those who had obtained the first degree of canonization.
title or respectful form of address, used from very early times in Europe, especially for certain clergy or for laymen of marked spiritual merit. St. Augustine in some epistles cited the term in reference to bishops, and Philip I of France was styled venerabilis and venerandus ("reverential"). The venerable by which Saint Bede is commonly known ("the Venerable Bede," or "Bede the Venerable") survives from a contemporary practice of so addressing bishops and abbots and, posthumously, worthy clerics such as Bede.