benefit of clergy

  1. the rites or sanctions of a church.

  2. formal marriage: living together withoutbenefit of clergy.

  1. the privilege claimed by church authorities to try and punish, by an ecclesiastical court, any member of the clergy accused of a serious crime. The privilege was abolished in the U.S. in 1790 and in England in 1827.

Origin of benefit of clergy

First recorded in 1480–90

Words Nearby benefit of clergy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for benefit of clergy

benefit of clergy

  1. sanction by the church: marriage without benefit of clergy

  2. (in the Middle Ages) a privilege that placed the clergy outside the jurisdiction of secular courts and entitled them to trial in ecclesiastical courts

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