[klurk; British klahrk]


verb (used without object)

to act or serve as a clerk.

Origin of clerk

before 1000; Middle English, Old English clerc, variant of cleric < Late Latin clēricus cleric
Related formsclerk·ish, adjectiveclerk·like, adjectiveclerk·ship, nounout·clerk, nounsub·clerk, nounsub·clerk·ship, nounun·der·clerk, nounun·der·clerk·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clerk

Contemporary Examples of clerk

Historical Examples of clerk

  • Was the gentleman” (he chose that word as he looked at the boys) “layman or clerk?

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • He needs a clerk for his law matters, and the Dean said he would speak of me to him.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • He had travelled, and had been a merchant's clerk in Paris and London.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • His letter was from his wife's brother, in whose bank Cornelius was a clerk.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Clerk or no, you have acted this day as becomes a true knight.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for clerk



a worker, esp in an office, who keeps records, files, etc
clerk to the justices (in England) a legally qualified person who sits in court with lay justices to advise them on points of law
an employee of a court, legislature, board, corporation, etc, who keeps records and accounts, etca town clerk
Also called: clerk of the House British a senior official of the House of Commons
Also called: clerk in holy orders a cleric
US and Canadian short for salesclerk
Also called: desk clerk US and Canadian a hotel receptionist
archaic a scholar


(intr) to serve as a clerk
Derived Formsclerkdom, nounclerkish, adjectiveclerkship, noun

Word Origin for clerk

Old English clerc, from Church Latin clēricus, from Greek klērikos cleric, relating to the heritage (alluding to the Biblical Levites, whose inheritance was the Lord), from klēros heritage
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 clerk

"man ordained in the ministry," c.1200, from Old English cleric and Old French clerc "clergyman, priest; scholar, student," both from Church Latin clericus "a priest," noun use of adjective meaning "priestly, belonging to the clerus" (see cleric).

Modern bureaucratic usage is a reminder of the dark ages when clergy alone could read and write and were employed for that skill by secular authorities. In late Old English the word can mean "king's scribe; keeper of accounts;" by c.1200 clerk took on a secondary sense in Middle English (as the cognate word did in Old French) of "anyone who can read or write." This led to the sense "assistant in a business" (c.1500), originally a keeper of accounts, later, especially in American English, "a retail salesman" (1790). Related: Clerkship.


"act as a clerk," 1550s, from clerk (n.). Related: Clerked, clerking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper