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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for acolyte
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I was to wear the red gown and the white cape of an acolyte!

  • As an acolyte, after all, he rated just barely above a layman; he had no powers whatever.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • An acolyte does well not to express his emotions too clearly.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • If you weren't an acolyte, I'd take a poke at you just to see you bounce.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • "The only Kano, the only Kano," mused the acolyte over his tea.

    The Dragon Painter

    Mary McNeil Fenollosa
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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