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[prahy-er-is] /ˈpraɪ ər ɪs/
a woman holding a position corresponding to that of a prior, sometimes ranking next below an abbess.
Origin of prioress
1250-1300; Middle English prioresse < Old French. See prior2, -ess
Related forms
subprioress, noun
Usage note
See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prioress
Historical Examples
  • So the prioress blessed her ere she glided thence in her stately fashion, and the oaken door opened and shut behind her.

    The Lady Of Blossholme H. Rider Haggard
  • “I rejoice that you take my meaning,” answered the prioress, in an even voice.

    Mistress Margery Emily Sarah Holt
  • The Abbot had the right of receiving the profession of the sisters and his consent was necessary to the election of the prioress.

  • In the meantime they proposed to me the engagement, and the post of prioress.

    The Autobiography of Madame Guyon Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon
  • The prioress, seated on the only chair in the parlor, was waiting for Fauchelevent.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • The large refectory was exchanged for the small chamber of the prioress.

  • On the death of Jutta in 1136, Hildegard was compelled to take the office of prioress.

  • Robin had swooned, and lay a dead weight in the arms of the prioress.

    Robin Hood Paul Creswick
  • Having done this vile deed, the prioress turned and left her cousin, locking the door behind her.

  • In the eyes of Chaucer the prioress was a thoroughly estimable person.

    Woman under Monasticism Lina Eckenstein
British Dictionary definitions for prioress


a nun holding an office in her convent corresponding to that of a prior in a male religious order
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 prioress

c.1300, from Medieval Latin priorissa, from prior "head of a priory of men" (see prior (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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