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

  • n. A nun in charge of a priory or ranking next below the abbess of an abbey.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a nun in charge of a priory; an abbess or mother superior

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A lady superior of a priory of nuns, and next in dignity to an abbess.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A female prior, having charge of a religious house; a woman who is the coadjutor of and next in rank to an abbess.

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

  • n. the superior of a group of nuns


Middle English prioresse, from Old French, feminine of prior, a prior; see prior2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
prior +‎ -ess (Wiktionary)


  • The term prioress is properly applied only to a superioress in a convent which has the papal approbation and whose members make solemn profession, that is, to convents which belong to an order in the strict sense of the word.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • All the sisters here are quite happy, and the prioress is extremely good.

    The Letters of St. Teresa

  • The prioress is so well skilled in these matters, that she has made the bargain with one of her friends, who knows it was for this house.

    The Letters of St. Teresa

  • The prioress is quite well and happy; she is much better than I am, and she is also exceedingly devoted to your ladyship.

    The Letters of St. Teresa

  • Both of them are confined to their bed, and the sub-prioress is dangerously ill.

    The Letters of St. Teresa

  • If the prioress is the first superior, her authority over the convent is similar to that of a conventual prior over his priory; if the first superior is an abbess, the office of the prioress is similar to that of a claustral prior in an abbey.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • The prioress is another respectable person, coy and simple, with dainty fingers, small mouth, and clean attire, -- a refined sort of a woman for that age, ornamented with corals and brooch, so stately as to be held in reverence, yet so sentimental as to weep for a mouse caught in a trap: all characteristic of a respectable, kind-hearted lady who has lived in seclusion.

    Beacon Lights of History

  • It was Claiming Our Truth, a volume of essays edited by Sister Nadine Foley, OP, prioress of a Dominican community in Adrian, Michigan, and a past president of LCWR.

    Transparency, Creativity, and Heresy

  • Ordered by her prioress to complete an account of her childhood memories, she was trying unsuccessfully to write:

    Gretchen Rubin: Respond to the Spirit of a Gift

  • The web has proved a bonus for the monastery where she is prioress of the Benedictine Nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery.

    How Many iPhone Developers Wear Wimples?


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