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benefit of clergy

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noun
  1. the rites or sanctions of a church.
  2. formal marriage: living together withoutbenefit of clergy.
  3. 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.
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Origin of benefit of clergy

First recorded in 1480–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for benefit of clergy

benefit of clergy

noun Christianity
  1. sanction by the churchmarriage 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
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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