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[rek-ter] /ˈrɛk tər/
a member of the clergy in charge of a parish in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
Roman Catholic Church. an ecclesiastic in charge of a college, religious house, or congregation.
Anglican Church. a member of the clergy who has the charge of a parish with full possession of all its rights, tithes, etc.
the head of certain universities, colleges, and schools.
Origin of rector
1350-1400; Middle English rectour < Latin rēctor helmsman, ruler, leader, equivalent to reg(ere) to rule + -tor -tor
Related forms
[rek-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /rɛkˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
subrector, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rector
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was over fifty years of age, and had been rector of Bowick for nearly twenty.

    Dr. Wortle's School Anthony Trollope
  • The rector proved himself a competitor worthy of the minister's mettle.

    Days Off Henry Van Dyke
  • And after a few minutes of desultory conversation, the rector left.

  • The rector was enthusiastic in his admiration of Wordsworth.

    Lady Bountiful George A. Birmingham
  • Mr. Austen, rector of Whitby, was present when Catherine told this.

    The Story of My Life, volumes 4-6 Augustus J. C. Hare
  • Doctor Baker looked at the rector's wife, and a kind of flame came into his eyes.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
British Dictionary definitions for rector


(Church of England) a clergyman in charge of a parish in which, as its incumbent, he would formerly have been entitled to the whole of the tithes Compare vicar
(RC Church) a cleric in charge of a college, religious house, or congregation
(Episcopal Church, Scottish Episcopal Church) a clergyman in charge of a parish
(mainly Brit) the head of certain schools or colleges
(in Scotland) a high-ranking official in a university: now a public figure elected for three years by the students
Derived Forms
rectorate, noun
rectorial (rɛkˈtɔːrɪəl) adjective
rectorship, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin: director, ruler, from regere to rule
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 rector

late 14c. (early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), from Latin rector "ruler, governor, director, guide," from rect-, past participle stem of regere "to rule, guide" (see regal). Used originally of Roman governors and God, by 18c. generally restricted to clergymen and college heads. Related: Rectorship.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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