noun, plural cler·gies.

the group or body of ordained persons in a religion, as distinguished from the laity.

Origin of clergy

1175–1225; Middle English clerge, clergie < Old French clergé (< Late Latin clericātus office of a priest; see cleric, -ate3), clergie, equivalent to clerc cleric + -ie -y3, with -g- after clergé
Related formscler·gy·like, adjectivean·ti·cler·gy, adjectivepro·cler·gy, adjective
Can be confusedclergy cleric imam minister pastor priest rabbi

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clergy

Contemporary Examples of clergy

Historical Examples of clergy

  • There are many uneducated preachers who move the classes the clergy cannot touch.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • I am, myself, as great an enemy to the luxury and splendour of the clergy as he can be.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • The treating of bishops and clergy is often noticed in the accounts.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • Well would it be if all the clergy were as sweet-tempered as that Bishop of Helstonleigh!

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • The Prefect of the Department, the Bishop, the clergy, objected to her story.

British Dictionary definitions for clergy


noun plural -gies

the collective body of men and women ordained as religious ministers, esp of the Christian ChurchRelated adjectives: clerical, pastoral

Word Origin for clergy

C13: from Old French clergie, from clerc ecclesiastic, clerk
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 clergy

c.1200, clergie "office or dignity of a clergyman," from two Old French words: 1. clergié "clerics, learned men," from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus (see clerk); 2. clergie "learning, knowledge, erudition," from clerc, also from Late Latin clericus. Meaning "persons ordained for religious work" is from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper