One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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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