[ prez-bi-ter, pres- ]
/ ˈprɛz bɪ tər, ˈprɛs- /


(in the early Christian church) an office bearer who exercised teaching, priestly, and administrative functions.
(in hierarchical churches) a priest.
an elder in a Presbyterian church.

Origin of presbyter

1590–1600; < Late Latin, noun use of the adj.: older < Greek presbýteros, equivalent to présby(s) old + -teros comparative suffix
Related formspres·byt·er·al [prez-bit-er-uh l, pres-] /prɛzˈbɪt ər əl, prɛs-/, adjectivenon·pres·by·ter, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for presbyter

British Dictionary definitions for presbyter


/ (ˈprɛzbɪtə) /


  1. an elder of a congregation in the early Christian Church
  2. (in some Churches having episcopal politics) an official who is subordinate to a bishop and has administrative, teaching, and sacerdotal functions
(in some hierarchical Churches) another name for priest
(in the Presbyterian Church)
  1. a teaching elder
  2. a ruling elder

Word Origin for presbyter

C16: from Late Latin, from Greek presbuteros an older man, from presbus old man
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 presbyter



"elder of the Christian church," 1590s, from Late Latin presbyter, used for "a priest" in Jerome and Prudentius, from Greek presbyteros "older," comparative of presbys "old; old man" (see presby-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper