a person who leads a church choir or congregation in singing.

Origin of precentor

1605–15; < Late Latin praecentor leader in music, equivalent to Latin praecen-, variant stem of praecinere to lead in singing (prae- pre- + -cinere, combining form of canere to sing; see canto) + -tor -tor
Related formspre·cen·to·ri·al [pree-sen-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /ˌpri sɛnˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/, adjectivepre·cen·tor·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for precentor

singer, leader, precentor, hazan, soloist, chanter, vocalist

Examples from the Web for precentor

Historical Examples of precentor

  • And I'm no' the precentor; I'm no' the man, ye ken, that lifts the tune.

    St. Cuthbert's

    Robert E. Knowles

  • Since then the precentor's box had preserved its lonely splendour.

    St. Cuthbert's

    Robert E. Knowles

  • The most uncanny thing about the kirk was the precentor's box beneath the pulpit.

    Auld Licht Idylls

    J. M. Barrie

  • I think it was the music, or the painted windows, or the precentor.

    The Green Carnation

    Robert Smythe Hichens

  • It occurs in Chapter cxv., Of the precentor and his assistant.

    The Care of Books

    John Willis Clark

British Dictionary definitions for precentor



a cleric who directs the choral services in a cathedral
a person who leads a congregation or choir in the sung parts of church services
Derived Formsprecentorial (ˌpriːsɛnˈtɔːrɪəl), adjectiveprecentorship, noun

Word Origin for precentor

C17: from Late Latin praecentor leader of the music, from prae before + canere to sing
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 precentor

1610s, from Late Latin praecentor "a leader in singing," from Latin praecantare "to sing before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). For change of vowel, see biennial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper