Definitions

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

  • noun The body of people ordained or recognized by a religious community as ritual or spiritual leaders.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun The privilege or benefit of clergy. See below.
  • noun Persons connected with the clerical profession or the religious orders.
  • noun Learning; erudition.
  • noun Sometimes applied to the ecclesiastics, ministers, and priests of non-Christian religious systems.

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

  • noun 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.
  • noun obsolete Learning; also, a learned profession.
  • noun The privilege or benefit of clergy.
  • noun (Eng., Law) the exemption of the persons of clergymen from criminal process before a secular judge -- a privilege which was extended to all who could read, such persons being, in the eye of the law, clerici, or clerks. This privilege was abridged and modified by various statutes, and finally abolished in the reign of George IV. (1827).
  • noun See Regular, n., and Secular, a.

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[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).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

Examples

  • But ascetics, nuns, and unordained members of religious associations of men were not originally in the ranks of the clergy, and, strictly speaking, are not so even to-day, though, on account of their closer and more special dependence on ecclesiastical authority, they have long been included under the title clergy in its wider sense (see RELIGIOUS).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 8: Infamy-Lapparent

  • First, the word "clergy" is essential to any understanding of what the Supreme Court did in the Hosanna-Tabor case, because that word has a special meaning in the Court's constitutional perception.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Presiding over the debate, gently — too gently? — prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury.

    The Velvet Reformation

  • For the past 20 months these non-ACoC clergy and lay leaders have excluded ACoC clergy from the building.

    Spinning the New Westminster vs. ANiC court ruling « Anglican Samizdat

  • Presiding over the debate, gently — too gently? — prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury.

    The Velvet Reformation

  • Presiding over the debate, gently — too gently? — prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury.

    The Velvet Reformation

  • The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. ...

    Pope Benedict XVI

  • In the London and Southwark dioceses, up to one in five clergy is thought to be gay, according to Canon Giles Goddard, co-founder of the lobby group Inclusive Church.

    The Church of England votes to give homosexual clergy hookups full benefits « Anglican Samizdat

  • The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. ...

    Sacraments

  • As clergy from a broad spectrum of religious traditions we hold diverse views regarding marriage.

    Civil Rights

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