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  1. a member of the clergy or other person in religious orders.
  2. a member of the ecclesia in ancient Athens.
  1. ecclesiastical.

Origin of ecclesiastic

1475–85; < Late Latin ecclēsiasticus < Greek ekklēsiastikós. See Ecclesiastes, -ic
Related formsan·ti·ec·cle·si·as·tic, noun, adjectivenon·ec·cle·si·as·tic, adjective, nounun·ec·cle·si·as·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ecclesiastic

Historical Examples

  • Is it your intention to condemn my son to be an ecclesiastic?

    The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Complete

    Madame La Marquise De Montespan

  • He is a diplomatist, an ecclesiastic, an embodiment of all that is severe and archaic in authority.

    Italy, the Magic Land

    Lilian Whiting

  • That painted window's said to be the oldest of any, not ecclesiastic, in Europe.

    Nell, of Shorne Mills

    Charles Garvice

  • My reputation then was blasted by the industry of this ecclesiastic.

    The Autobiography of Madame Guyon

    Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon

  • By the side of this ecclesiastic, his Wolsley is, so to speak, nowhere.

British Dictionary definitions for ecclesiastic


  1. a clergyman or other person in holy orders
  1. of or associated with the Christian Church or clergy
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

Word Origin and History for ecclesiastic


late 15c., from Middle French ecclésiastique and directly from Late Latin ecclesiasticus, from Greek ekklesiastikos "of the (ancient Athenian) assembly," later, "of the church," from ekklesiastes "speaker in an assembly or church, preacher," from ekkalein "to call out," from ek "out" (see ex-) + kalein "to call" (see claim (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper