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

  • n. A minor parish official formerly employed in an English church to usher and keep order during services.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a parish constable, a uniformed minor (lay) official, who ushers and keeps order
  • n. an attendant to the minister
  • n. a warrant officer

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A messenger or crier of a court; a servitor; one who cites or bids persons to appear and answer; -- called also an apparitor or summoner.
  • n. An officer in a university, who precedes public processions of officers and students.
  • n. An inferior parish officer in England having a variety of duties, as the preservation of order in church service, the chastisement of petty offenders, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who makes proclamation; a herald.
  • n. A crier or messenger of a court; a servitor; one who cites persons to appear and answer.
  • n. In universities, a subaltern official or servant, properly and usually termed a bedel (which see).
  • n. In England, a parish officer having various subordinate duties, such as keeping order in church, punishing petty offenders, waiting on the clergyman, attending meetings of vestry or session, etc.
  • n. The apparitor of a trades guild or company. Also spelled bedell and bedel, in senses 2 and 3.

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

  • n. a minor parish official who serves a ceremonial function
  • n. United States biologist who discovered how hereditary characteristics are transmitted by genes (1903-1989)


Middle English bedel, herald (from Old English bydel) and from Old French bedel (from Medieval Latin bedellus, from Old High German butil; see bheudh- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bedel, bidel, from Old English bydel ("warrant officer, apparitor"), from Proto-Germanic *budilaz (“herald”), from Proto-Germanic *beudanan (“to present, offer”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰewdʰ- (“to comprehend, make aware”). Akin to Old High German butil ("beadle"), (whence German Büttel), Old English bēodan ("to announce"). More at bid. (Wiktionary)



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