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nounRussian Orthodox Church
The members of one of the two main divisions of Old Believers, characterized by their dispensing with the priesthood after the schism of 1667.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Macmillan's Magazine. From Russian bespopovcy, plural of bespopovec from Russian bespopovščina (collectively) Old Believers who do not have priests, ultimately from bes-, variant (before second elements with initial voiceless consonant) of bez- without + pop priest.
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