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See more synonyms for clergy on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural cler·gies.
  1. the group or body of ordained persons in a religion, as distinguished from the laity.
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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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for clergy

priesthood, conclave, cardinalate, pastorate, rabbinate, prelacy, canonicate, canonry, deaconry, diaconate

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper