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

  • noun A cleric's house and land, especially the residence of a Presbyterian minister.
  • noun A large stately residence.
  • noun Archaic The dwellings belonging to a householder.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Originally, the dwelling of a landholder with the land attached; afterward, especially, any ecclesiastical residence, whether parochial or collegiate; now, specifically, the dwelling-house of a minister of the Established Church of Scotland, and hence sometimes the parsonage of any church of the Presbyterian or Congregational order.
  • To excommunicate; curse.

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

  • noun A dwelling house, generally with land attached.
  • noun Scot. The parsonage; a clergyman's house.
  • noun the manor house, or lord's court.

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

  • verb transitive To excommunicate; curse.
  • noun A house inhabited by the minister of a parish.
  • noun archaic A family dwelling, an owner-occupied house.
  • noun A large house, a mansion.

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

  • noun the residence of a clergyman (especially a Presbyterian clergyman)
  • noun a large and imposing house


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

[Middle English manss, a manor house, from Medieval Latin mānsa, a dwelling, from Latin, feminine past participle of manēre, to dwell, remain; see men- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English mansien, apheretic variant of amansien, from Old English āmǣnsumian ("to excommunicate"). More at amanse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin mansus ("dwelling"), from manere ("to remain"), from whence also manor, mansion.


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  • I figure Bristol hangs at the Palin manse, watches tv (Family Guy), plays on the computer and texts her friends on her iPhone.

    Think Progress » Palin attacks Family Guy’s ‘satire’ after excusing Limbaugh’s. 2010

  • Unfortunately this son of a manse is none too clever at holding his drink and gets completely bladdered on a few babychams, plus mind eraser and horse's neck cocktails.

    Mathew`s Passion Newmania 2007

  • His cover as Godly son of the manse is blown to smithereens.

    The Ghost Of Leaders Past Newmania 2007

  • The Stan Hywet manse is a huge, radically-overdone 1930s house that spans almost a quarter of a mile, laced with secret corridors and filled with top-of-the-line 1930s technology, but if you were to judge Stan Hywet by his gift shop, you'd think that he had the world's largest collection of Beanie Babies and gardening books.

    Oh, And... andrewducker 2003

  • Anne dearie, believe me, the state of that manse is something terrible.

    Rainbow Valley Lucy Maud 1919

  • The word manse had not yet reached the atmosphere.

    The City of Fire Grace Livingston Hill 1906

  • The family lived in a WEE MANSION - albeit called the manse or rectory - the sort of country pile which would fetch a couple of MILLION now.

    Cameron simply lacks the upbringing. .... Newmania 2007

  • The third group dwelling in the manse is the Johnston family: Daniel, his elderly parents Bill and Mabel, his brother Dick, and sisters Margie and Sally.

    Michael Simmons: The Reporter and Daniel Johnston 2008

  • The Rev. Robert Kirke was, it seems, walking upon a little eminence to the west of the present manse, which is still held a Dun Shie, or fairy mound, when he sunk down, in what seemed to mortals a fit, and was supposed to be dead.

    Rob Roy 2005

  • The manse was a square Victorian building built beside the loch, with a depressing garden of weedy grass and rhodo-dendrons.

    Death of a Charming Man Beaton, M. C. 1994


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  • too bad the word mansion is overused. Manse is good; mansion is pretentious and not-so-good.

    August 13, 2008

  • Really? For me it's the other way around.

    August 13, 2008

  • I've only ever encountered manse used in the very specialised sense of a clergyman's residence, never as a variant for mansion. In many instances (but not all) a manse is a relatively modest affair, while a mansion is, of course, meant to be imposing.

    That said, there is, in a particularly beautiful Federation suburb of Sydney, a manse that almost makes a girl want to (a) join the Uniting Church and (b) study for the ministry. Handsome, of a goodly size, characterful, lovely garden and not in the slightest bit pretentious.

    August 14, 2008

  • Frindley, have you seen O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which Ulysses Everett McGill speaks of his "ancestral manse" (which is a clapboard shack (with a rolltop desk))?

    Not that this character never misuses words—but I think he was using "manse" as the snooty-version word for "mansion."

    This prompted me to go look in the OED:

    1. The principal house of an estate; a mansion, a capital messuage. CF. manor

    2. a. Originally: an ecclesiastical residence (parochial or collegiate). Now: spec. a house allocated to or occupied by a minister of certain Nonconformist or non-episcopal Churches, esp. the Church of Scotland.

    Interestingly, it also lists manse as a verb:

    trans. To excommunicate (a person); to curse or damn.

    I learn so much hanging out here... *sigh*

    August 14, 2008

  • The Church of Scotland is episcopal in structure, is it not?

    August 14, 2008

  • logos: that's exactly the sort of thing Ulysses Everett McGill would say!

    August 14, 2008

  • Well, yarb, it was a Scottish bishop who ordained priests and bishops in America after the American Revolution, bypassing the Church of England and the late unpleasantness of the war, thereby perpetuating the Anglican tradition in the US. Episcopalians in the US trace their structural roots to the Church of Scotland, a branch of the Church of England, not the Church of England. The Church of England is the English branch of the Holy Catholic Church begun by Henry VIII, through the Act of Supremacy, disestablished by Queen Mary, re-established by Edward VI, and perpetuated over time by Elizabeth I in the tradiiton known as the Elizabethan Settlement. Don't get me started on Apostolic Succession! It is wrong to say that the Church of Scotland is not episcopal. BAD INFO.

    August 14, 2008

  • When I was growing up in Baltimore and attending a Presbyterian church, the minister's house, which was hardly a mansion, was always called "the manse" and was located right next to the church. I had completely forgotten about this word. Thanks for reminding me.

    August 14, 2008

  • I've also only ever seen this word to describe the residence of a presbyterian clergyman. Protestant clergy lived in rectories and individual Catholic clergy members lived in the parish priest's house (or the curate's house, or the monsignor's residence, or the bishop's palace, or the Vatican, or wherever ..).

    But manse was distinctly reserved for presbyterian clergy. And had nothing whatsoever to do with a mansion or manor house.

    edited to acknowledge that "clergyman" above should more correctly read "clergyperson". And to say how awkward it is when the person next to one in the internet café is typing through floods of noisy tears... (I offered her a tissue, which only seemed to make things worse. Oh dear)

    August 14, 2008

  • *lowers his episcope and sneaks away*

    August 14, 2008

  • It seems like those in the U.K. and Commonwealth or former Commonwealth (Empire?) countries have only seen this word in the sense of the 2nd OED meaning.

    Ulysses Everett McGill, on the other hand, does not hail from any of those illustrious nations. Ipso facto, that puts me in an awkward position vis-a-vis my accustomed usage of this nomenclature.

    August 14, 2008

  • For a Presbyterian, actually, clergyman is much more likely than clergyperson.

    August 14, 2008

  • The OED marks sense 1 as obsolete, however; the latest quote they have for it is from the heavily archaized Harold (1848, set around 1066) by the wretched Bulwer-Lytton:

    "You will not find him there," said Godrith, "for I know that as soon as he hath finished his conference with the Atheling, he will leave the city; and I shall be at his own favourite manse over the water at sunset, to take orders for repairing the forts and dykes on the Marches. You can tarry awhile and meet us; you know his old lodge in the forest land?"

    August 14, 2008

  • Just a note on sionnach's comment: in my experience, a Catholic priest almost always lives in a rectory--no mention of it being anyone's house, manse, Vatican, or mansion. :-)

    August 14, 2008

  • cb: you channel the great man to perfection. Chapeau!

    August 14, 2008

  • Gratified you deigned to notice, yarb.

    I neglected to mention that McGill (among others) tends to use the word "ancestral" before "manse," to accent the snootiness of the term.

    August 15, 2008

  • rectory-schmectory!

    August 16, 2008

  • Now who lives in that?

    August 18, 2008

  • ... Yiddish-Catholic priests...?

    Just a thought...

    August 18, 2008

  • Marilla used this word when she was talking to Reverend Allen and his wife moving into a house.

    June 10, 2012