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See more synonyms for cleric on Thesaurus.com
  1. a member of the clergy.
  2. a member of a clerical party.
  3. clerics, (used with a plural verb) half-sized or small-sized reading glasses worn on the nose, usually rimless or with a thin metal frame.
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  1. pertaining to the clergy; clerical.
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Origin of cleric

1615–25; < Late Latin clēricus priest < Greek klērikós, equivalent to klêr(os) lot, allotment + -ikos -ic
Can be confusedclergy cleric imam minister pastor priest rabbi
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cleric


  1. a member of the clergy
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Word Origin

C17: from Church Latin clēricus priest, 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 cleric


1620s (also in early use as an adjective), from Church Latin clericus "clergyman, priest," noun use of adjective meaning "priestly, belonging to the clerus;" from Ecclesiastical Greek klerikos "pertaining to an inheritance," but in Greek Christian jargon by 2c., "of the clergy, belonging to the clergy," as opposed to the laity; from kleros "a lot, allotment; piece of land; heritage, inheritance," originally "a shard or wood chip used in casting lots," related to klan "to break" (see clastic).

Kleros was used by early Greek Christians for matters relating to ministry, based on Deut. xviii:2 reference to Levites as temple assistants: "Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance," kleros being used as a translation of Hebrew nahalah "inheritance, lot." Or else it is from the use of the word in Acts i:17. A word taken up in English after clerk (n.) shifted to its modern meaning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper