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[vik-er] /ˈvɪk ər/
Church of England.
  1. a person acting as priest of a parish in place of the rector, or as representative of a religious community to which tithes belong.
  2. the priest of a parish the tithes of which are impropriated and who receives only the smaller tithes or a salary.
Protestant Episcopal Church.
  1. a member of the clergy whose sole or chief charge is a chapel dependent on the church of a parish.
  2. a bishop's assistant in charge of a church or mission.
Roman Catholic Church. an ecclesiastic representing the pope or a bishop.
a person who acts in place of another; substitute.
a person who is authorized to perform the functions of another; deputy:
God's vicar on earth.
Origin of vicar
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French vicare; Old French vicaire < Latin vicārius a substitute, noun use of adj.; see vicarious
Related forms
vicarship, noun
subvicar, noun
subvicarship, noun
undervicar, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vicar
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Many people said openly that the vicar was past his work and should be pensioned off.

    The Pagan's Cup Fergus Hume
  • But say them she did at the altar, being compelled to do so by the vicar.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • So she told the vicar, who smiled, and said, ‘We must elect you.’

    More Bywords Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I believe we all are—Meg and Elsie, and the boys, and even the vicar!

  • The vicar, in their first conversation, had opened his eyes as to the action of that pretended friend.

    Willing to Die Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • Opposite to her, on the vicar's left, sat the formidable rector's wife.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Jane went and went again to the shops for such provisions as she considered the vicar and Master Owen required.

    Owen Hartley; or, Ups and Downs William H. G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for vicar


(Church of England)
  1. (in Britain) a clergyman appointed to act as priest of a parish from which, formerly, he did not receive tithes but a stipend
  2. a clergyman who acts as assistant to or substitute for the rector of a parish at Communion
  3. (in the US) a clergyman in charge of a chapel
(RC Church) a bishop or priest representing the pope or the ordinary of a diocese and exercising a limited jurisdiction
(Church of England) Also called lay vicar, vicar choral. a member of a cathedral choir appointed to sing certain parts of the services
a person appointed to do the work of another
Derived Forms
vicarly, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French vicaire, from Latin vicārius (n) a deputy, from vicārius (adj) vicarious
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 vicar

c.1300, from Old French vicaire, from Latin vicarius "substitute, deputy," noun use of adj. vicarius "substituting," from vicis "change, turn, office" (see vicarious). The original notion is of "earthly representative of God or Christ;" but also used in sense of "person acting as parish priest in place of a real parson" (early 14c.).

The original Vicar of Bray (in figurative use from 1660s) seems to have been Simon Allen, who held the benefice from c.1540 to 1588, thus serving from the time of Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, and was twice a Catholic and twice a Protestant, but always vicar of Bray. The village is near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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