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[ak-uh-lahyt] /ˈæk əˌlaɪt/
an altar attendant in public worship.
Roman Catholic Church.
  1. a member of the highest-ranking of the four minor orders.
  2. the order itself.
    Compare exorcist (def 2), lector (def 2), ostiary (def 1).
any attendant, assistant, or follower.
Origin of acolyte
1275-1325; Middle English acolite < Medieval Latin acolytus < Greek akólouthos follower, attendant, equivalent to a- prefix denoting association + -kolouthos, variant of kéleuthos road, journey Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for acolyte
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They carry copper bassoons ten feet long, so heavy that their bells have to rest on the shoulder of an acolyte.

    From Pole to Pole Sven Anders Hedin
  • Constans, in his capacity of acolyte, stood on the right of the altar.

    The Doomsman Van Tassel Sutphen
  • From the small door beside the chapel came a priest and his acolyte, a choir boy.

    The Mercenary W. J. Eccott
  • I was to wear the red gown and the white cape of an acolyte!

  • We degrade thee from the order of an acolyte, taking from thee in token thereof this small pitcher and taper staff.

British Dictionary definitions for acolyte


a follower or attendant
(Christianity) an officer who attends or assists a priest
Word Origin
C16: via Old French and Medieval Latin from Greek akolouthos a follower
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 acolyte

early 14c., "inferior officer in the church," from Old French acolite or directly from Medieval Latin acolytus (Late Latin acoluthos), from Greek akolouthos "following, attending on," literally "having one way," from a- "together with," copulative prefix, + keleuthose "a way, road, path, track," from PIE *qeleu- (cf. Lithuanian kelias "way"). In late Old English as a Latin word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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