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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.
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
  • The new vicar said he would wear no clothes which would distinguish him from other people.
  • Once upon a time, the good vicar was the one who preached the best sermon.
  • We don't want to know who killed the vicar right away.
  • She played different bishops, vicar generals and apostolic envoys off against each other.
  • In a statement, the former vicar general took full responsibility for the decision to reinstate the priest to pastoral work.
  • Forget those local worthies who help with the vicar's coffee mornings and arrange flowers.
  • So between her and the vicar, you could put together a history of the whole town.
  • The devil gets into the belfry on the vicar's skirts.
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
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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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Encyclopedia Article for vicar


(from Latin vicarius, "substitute"), an official acting in some special way for a superior, primarily an ecclesiastical title in the Christian Church. In the Roman Empire as reorganized by Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305), the vicarius was an important official, and the title remained in use for secular officials in the Middle Ages. In the Roman Catholic Church, "vicar of Christ" became the special designation of the popes starting in the 8th century, and eventually it replaced the older title of "vicar of St. Peter."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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