Definitions

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

  • n. The body of people ordained for religious service. See Usage Note at collective noun.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Body of persons, such as ministers, priests and rabbis, who are trained and ordained for religious service.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The body of men set apart, by due ordination, to the service of God, in the Christian church, in distinction from the laity; in England, usually restricted to the ministers of the Established Church.
  • n. Learning; also, a learned profession.
  • n. The privilege or benefit of clergy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A body of men set apart and consecrated by due ordination to the duties of public ministration in the Christian church; the body of ecclesiastics, in distinction from the laity.
  • n. The privilege or benefit of clergy. See below.
  • n. Persons connected with the clerical profession or the religious orders.
  • n. Learning; erudition.
  • n. Sometimes applied to the ecclesiastics, ministers, and priests of non-Christian religious systems.

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

  • n. in Christianity, clergymen collectively (as distinguished from the laity)

Etymologies

Middle English clergie, from Old French (from Vulgar Latin *clercīa, from Late Latin clēricus; see clerk) and from Old French clergié, body of clerks (from Vulgar Latin *clercātus, from Late Latin clēricātus, from clēricus, clerk, cleric).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Attested in the 13th Century CE; from clergie, from Old French clergié ("learned men"), from Latin clericatus, from Latin clericus ("one ordained for religious services"), from Ancient Greek κληρικός (klērikos, "of the clergy"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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