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See more synonyms for prelate on Thesaurus.com
  1. an ecclesiastic of a high order, as an archbishop, bishop, etc.; a church dignitary.
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Origin of prelate

1175–1225; Middle English prelat < Medieval Latin praelātus a civil or ecclesiastical dignitary, noun use of Latin praelātus (past participle of praeferre to prefer), equivalent to prae- pre- + lātus, suppletive past participle of ferre to bear1
Related formsprel·ate·ship, nounpre·lat·ic [pri-lat-ik] /prɪˈlæt ɪk/, adjectivenon·pre·lat·ic, adjectiveun·pre·lat·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

bishop, dignitary, cardinal, abbot, ecclesiastic, hierarch, archbishop, abbess

Examples from the Web for prelate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It needed but that to add fresh fuel to the fiery mood of the prelate.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • But the prelate had kept counsel, and meant to keep it; and he looked away again.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • It certainly was a pretty situation, as the prelate remarked.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • "A more sensible thought than the other," observed the prelate.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • "No, no, you are not losing your time," replied the prelate.

British Dictionary definitions for prelate


  1. a Church dignitary of high rank, such as a cardinal, bishop, or abbot
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Derived Formsprelatic (prɪˈlætɪk) or prelatical, adjective

Word Origin

C13: from Old French prélat, from Church Latin praelātus, from Latin praeferre to hold in special esteem, prefer
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 prelate


c.1200, from Old French prelat (Modern French prélate) and directly from Medieval Latin prelatus "clergyman of high rank," from Latin praelatus "one preferred," noun use of past participle of praeferre (see prefer), from prae "before" (see pre-) + latus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper