Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The superior of a monastery.
  • noun Used as a title for such a person.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Literally, father: a title originally given to any monk, but afterward limited to the head or superior of a monastery.
  • noun In later usage, loosely applied to the holder of one of certain non-monastic offices.
  • noun A title retained in Hanover, Würtemberg, Brunswick, and Schleswig-Holstein by the heads of certain Protestant institutions to which the property of various abbeys was transferred at the Reformation. See abbess
  • noun The chief magistrate of the Genoese in Galata.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The superior or head of an abbey.
  • noun One of a class of bishops whose sees were formerly abbeys.
  • noun a title formerly given to one of the chief magistrates in Genoa.
  • noun in mediæval times, the master of revels, as at Christmas; in Scotland called the Abbot of Unreason.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A layman who received the abbey's revenues, after the closing of the monasteries.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the superior of an abbey of monks

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English abbod, from Old English, from Late Latin abbās, abbāt-, from Greek abbā, abbās, from Aramaic ’abbā, my father; see ℵb in Semitic roots.]

Examples

  • Our Lady's Chapel has a bold kind of portal, and several ceilings of chapels, and tribunes in a beautiful taste: but of all delight, is what they call the abbot's cloister.

    The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 2

  • Address by the abbot of Montecassino (who, as territorial abbot, is also the ordinary of Cassino):

    More from Montecassino

  • The word abbot — abbas in Latin and Greek, abba in Chaldee and Syriac — came from the Hebrew ab, meaning father.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • When, therefore, any one shall receive the name of abbot, he ought to rule his disciples with a twofold teaching: that is, he should first show them in deeds rather than words all that is good and holy.

    The Early Middle Ages 500-1000

  • The bishops of Kildare were frequently called abbot-bishops and bishops of Leinster down to the Synod of Kells.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 8: Infamy-Lapparent

  • Placidi ", purporting to be written by one Gordianus, a servant of the saint, on the strength of which he is usually described as abbot and martyr, is really the work of Peter the Deacon, a monk of Monte Cassino in the twelfth century (see Delehaye, op.cit. infra).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • “Why, well,” said the youth, “if the abbot is a man of respectability becoming his vocation, and not one of those swaggering churchmen, who stretch out the sword, and bear themselves like rank soldiers in these troublous times.”

    Castle Dangerous

  • Obedience to the abbot is the most obvious form of this, but that obedience itself refers to the life and health of the whole community, since the abbot exercises discipline only in that context, and is ultimately accountable in those terms.

    'Shaping Holy Lives', a Conference on Benedictine Spirituality

  • Except on one point: all of them agreed that the knight who had first defied the abbot was a Nordic wolfman of some sort.

    The Shadow Of The Lion

  • Our parents were taken from us when we were young, and after that the abbot was our father, and the monks were our family.

    The Pillars of the Earth

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    February 20, 2007