American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. An employee or officer of a church who is responsible for the care and upkeep of church property and sometimes for ringing bells and digging graves.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An under-officer of a church, whose duty it is to act as janitor, and who has charge of the edifice, utensils, furniture, etc. In many instances the sexton also prepares graves and attends burials. Usually, in the Church of England, the sexton is a life-officer, but in the United States he is hired in the same manner as the janitor of any public building. See
- n. In entomology, a sexton-beetle; a burying-beetle; any member of the genus Necrophorus. See also cut under Necrophorus.
- n. A church official who looks after a church and its graveyard and may act as a gravedigger and bell-ringer.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. An under officer of a church, whose business is to take care of the church building and the vessels, vestments, etc., belonging to the church, to attend on the officiating clergyman, and to perform other duties pertaining to the church, such as to dig graves, ring the bell, etc.
- n. an officer of the church who is in charge of sacred objects
- n. United States poet (1928-1974)
- From Medieval Latin sacristanus, based on Latin sacer ("sacred"). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English sextein, from Anglo-Latin sextānus, probably from Medieval Latin secristānus, sacristan, variant of sacristānus; see sacristan. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The term sexton by definition is a person who looks after a church and digs graves, which failed to accurately describe the job duties.”
“Sigrist, or sexton, is a job shared by a Manage who lives atop Sigrist Poke (the highest elevation on Skene) on the biggest island, Riesig.”
“The sexton was a tall thin man, emaciated by years and by privations; his body was bent habitually by his occupation of grave-digging, and his eye naturally inclined downward to the scene of his labours.”
“The abode of the sexton was a solitary cottage adjacent to the ruined wall of the cemetery, but so low that, with its thatch, which nearly reached the ground, covered with a thick crop of grass, fog, and house-leeks, it resembled an overgrown grave.”
“The sexton was a meek, acquiescing little man, of a bowing, lowly habit: yet he had a pleasant twinkling in his eye, and, if encouraged, would now and then hazard a small pleasantry; such as a man of his low estate might venture to make in the company of high churchwardens, and other mighty men of the earth.”
“Betty stood godmother for him, and the parish clerk and the sexton were his godfathers.”
“Apart from sectarian issues, a sexton is the most mettlesome man that grows, and not at all to be subdued to the ignoble uses of a hoe.”
“Renzo went and called the sexton, who, after confirming every fact, adding fresh particulars, and dissipating every doubt, again went on his way.”
“But as the sexton was a secret disciple of the opposition they had him hid away near the church, and at a given signal he was to appear with the keys.”
“But he took little by it; the sexton was a tough customer.”
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