[prez-bi-teer-ee-uh n, pres-]


pertaining to or based on the principle of ecclesiastical government by presbyters or presbyteries.
(initial capital letter) designating or pertaining to various churches having this form of government and professing more or less modified forms of Calvinism.


(initial capital letter) a member of a Presbyterian church; a person who supports Presbyterianism.

Origin of presbyterian

First recorded in 1635–45; presbytery + -an
Related formsnon-Pres·by·te·ri·an, adjective, nounpro-Pres·by·te·ri·an, adjective, nounpseu·do-Pres·by·te·ri·an, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for presbyterian

Contemporary Examples of presbyterian

Historical Examples of presbyterian

  • He was a Presbyterian, and had a most deep respect for Moses which was a Presbyterian, too, he said.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Wouldn't you swear to that being the voice of a presbyterian?

  • His father was a Presbyterian of the Scotch type, and a ruling elder in the church.

  • "I was the son of a Presbyterian minister," he said, shortly.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • You might as well want to go to that Presbyterian hole in Belfast!

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for presbyterian



of, relating to, or designating Church government by presbyters or lay elders


an upholder of this type of Church government
Derived Formspresbyterianism, nounpresbyterianistic, adjective



of or relating to any of various Protestant Churches governed by presbyters or lay elders and adhering to various modified forms of Calvinism


a member of a Presbyterian Church
Derived FormsPresbyterianism, noun
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 presbyterian


adj., n.

1640, in reference to the Scottish church governed by elders (as opposed to bishops), from presbyter "an elder in a church" (1590s), from Late Latin presbyter "an elder," from Greek presbyteros "an elder," also an adjective meaning "older," comparative of presbys "old" (see presby-).

Presbyterial was used from c.1600 in the sense "of or pertaining to a presbytery;" also from 1590s as "presbyterian" (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper