Definition of clerk in English:



  • 1A person employed in an office or bank to keep records, accounts, and undertake other routine administrative duties.

    ‘a bank clerk’
    ‘a wages clerk’
    • ‘A bank clerk who stole more than £39,000 from the branch where she worked has been jailed for 15 months.’
    • ‘He presented the photo-card and a partially-completed withdrawal slip for £4,800 to a bank clerk, who became suspicious.’
    • ‘His bank has to fly the slip of paper cross-country to your bank so clerks there can look it over.’
    • ‘The option of personal interaction between the customer and the bank clerk should be preserved and indeed improved.’
    • ‘For a bank clerk, hairdresser, or singer, the manner in which the service is produced is an essential element of the total promotion of the service.’
    • ‘Seraph signed the paperwork for the clerk to bill her bank account, having nowhere near the amount in ready cash, and they prepared to take the bed to the apartment.’
    • ‘This group included working mothers, copy editors, loggers, divorcées, construction workers, cashiers, field hands, bank clerks, tailors.’
    • ‘Thousands of police officers, railway conductors and bank clerks attend Samsung's ‘Service Academy’ to learn to bow and answer customer questions.’
    • ‘Cantillon employed clerks in his bank - professional copyists and document preparers - who could have made copies in their spare time.’
    • ‘Jean, a young man who works as a bank clerk, is invited to the casino by a friend and promptly wins big at roulette.’
    • ‘In one exercise, they caught a solicitor, a doctor, two bank clerks and an accountant for ‘short fares’.’
    • ‘‘The bank clerk was very helpful, he promised to help us,’ Lateera said slowly.’
    • ‘Most intriguing of all will be the many guns lurking around the Mound from the days when bank clerks routinely settled disputes with their customers by fighting a duel.’
    • ‘Provincial bank clerks who haven't had a promotion in 10 years are not the stuff of legend.’
    • ‘What could distinguish one store clerk from another, or even a bank clerk?’
    • ‘Ultimately, it will reduce the demand for bank clerks, but that doesn't mean bank clerks will go unemployed.’
    • ‘The trio arrived at the bank around 9: 40 am when there were only five bank clerks and two customers inside.’
    • ‘Many male artistes feel constrained to continue as bank clerks or chartered accountants, even though they know that a career in music demands full-time effort.’
    • ‘I suggest that we sit down for a moment on a nearby bench, which is miraculously free of dossers and bank clerks.’
    • ‘A Croatian bank robber was so humiliated that he ran away after a bank clerk just laughed at him when he tried to rob them.’
    office worker, clerical worker, administrator, administrative officer
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An official in charge of the records of a local council or court.
      ‘a clerk to the magistrates’
      • ‘To get information about the Small Claims process and the dollar limitations that apply, contact the court clerk at your local courthouse.’
      • ‘The Council revoked the authority of district and circuit court clerks to issue marriage licenses.’
      • ‘I'll be talking with two authors and former clerks of the Supreme Court next.’
      • ‘If York's soldiers wish to really shine on the parade ground, they should take lessons from the barristers and solicitors' clerks at York Crown Court.’
      • ‘The clerks, who prepared legal documents, registered deeds, and issued licences, were commoners who did not own property, hold degrees, or belong to the elite gentry families.’
      • ‘It clearly does not mean a place where a clerk presides over a court on the record and purports to deal with matters that are before the court for plea and disposition.’
      • ‘It was an unseemly episode, the prosecutor forcing clerks to interrupt court business because he wanted space for his staff.’
      • ‘The court, usually presided over by peers, had professional lawyers as clerks.’
      • ‘Anyone can file a complaint for judicial misconduct with the clerk of the federal court of appeals for the circuit in which a given judge sits.’
      • ‘The certificate, when endorsed, goes to the clerk of the court.’
      • ‘He had immigrated to Israel in 1947, and had been employed as a clerk in a municipal office throughout his working years in Israel.’
      • ‘She spent several years as a dispatcher for the Pender County, N.C., sheriff's office and a year as a clerk of the county court.’
      • ‘Information and training must be given to people so that they will know how to approach magistrate court clerks.’
      • ‘There, as the only female clerk employed, she was paid the full male rate at a time when most women received only 54 per cent of a male wage.’
      • ‘The courts employ 60 clerks who act as legal advisers to magistrates.’
      • ‘Due to the large numbers of those indicted, the court clerks eventually tired of writing the charge in full and began to abbreviate it.’
      • ‘Official marriages, officiated by either religious authorities or by municipal clerks or judges, must be dissolved by the legal procedure of divorce.’
      • ‘A lawyer with a pending lawsuit asks the clerk of the court for a stack of blank subpoenas.’
      • ‘The clerk of the court had made the following entries in his log.’
      • ‘It appears from an affidavit by the court clerk that two cases were scheduled for hearing that day, including the case which is the subject of this application for judicial review.’
    2. 1.2 A senior official in Parliament.
      • ‘Manning said the clerks of the T & T Parliament had been known to perform their duties with a high level of impartiality, and were outstanding in the region for this.’
      • ‘Holyrood staff such as parliamentary clerks and librarians will also be able to claim for part of the cost of gym, health club and sports club membership.’
      • ‘Paul, the parliament's clerk and chief executive, is convener of the SPBE board.’
      • ‘By then the minister had also acquired the help of a powerful official, the first clerk of finances, as well as a dozen other senior clerks and several principal secretaries directing bureaux.’
      • ‘According to a parliamentary clerk, there are over a thousand bills languishing before the National Assembly.’
      • ‘The most likely performance space would be the central area occupied by the desks of the Presiding Officer and his four parliamentary clerks.’
      • ‘Under Scottish parliament rules, clerks do not help draft bills connected with areas which the Executive is already legislating or consulting on.’
      • ‘Finally the clerk of Parliament came to inform him that someone was on the way.’
    3. 1.3 A lay officer of a cathedral, parish church, college chapel, etc.
      ‘a chapter clerk’
      • ‘‘People had been writing secret letters for three years,’ says a former church clerk.’
      • ‘He had served on Ryedale District Council since 1991 and was clerk to Sheriff Hutton Parish Council for almost 48 years.’
      • ‘It has involved the resignation of the cathedral chapter clerk, bursar and organist.’
      • ‘He is also a singing teacher at Manchester Grammar School and a lay clerk at Manchester Cathedral.’
      • ‘She was also clerk of Little Ouseburn parish council for 27 years.’
      • ‘Quite a number of the latter were educated and were employed by the Church in various intellectual occupations such as catechists, clerks and doctors.’
      • ‘In Leeds boy choristers and lay clerks from the parish church and pupils from St Peter's Church of England Primary School took part.’
      • ‘They have served as Sunday School superintendent, church secretary, and church clerk.’
      • ‘Now a lay clerk in Worcester Cathedral, he also conducts and tours his own chamber choir.’
      • ‘When I finally found an adult in the crowd, she directed me to Susan, the clerk of the church ‘session.’’
      • ‘The superintendent of the Sunday School and the church clerk were also men.’
      • ‘The chapter clerk said: ‘We are not putting out any statement until after a meeting of the cathedral council on Monday.’’
      • ‘The clerk to the Wimbish Parish Council said she believed the whole village would be saddened by the deaths.’
      • ‘This was about the clerk of that parish, whose wife used to wash the parson's surplices.’
      • ‘I have contacted the clerks of both the parish and town councils which will be affected.’
      • ‘Before going to school George was also taught by the clerk in his father's parish in Skreen.’
  • 2North American A receptionist in a hotel.

    ‘she approached the desk and the clerk looked down at her’
    • ‘I carried Katie into the lobby of an Annapolis hotel and asked the desk clerk for a room.’
    • ‘One of the figures was the familiar desk clerk from the hotel.’
    • ‘When we complained to the desk clerk, he looked at the two of us and said simply, ‘One room.’’
    • ‘For a time I lived in the Bell Hotel and worked as a desk clerk.’
    • ‘We returned to the hotel late, only to be greeted by a tense desk clerk with a note in his hand.’
    • ‘You also have some rather elegant hotel reservations in St. Petersburg, the front desk clerk is Agent 21, so I'm sure you'll have no problems there.’
    • ‘Now he works two jobs, as a taxicab driver and as a hotel desk clerk.’
    • ‘We could go to the beach today and tonight ask the hotel desk clerk to arrange a boat.’
    • ‘The desk clerk looked up over round-lensed glasses.’
    • ‘‘They came in around 10 or 11 a.m. and started talking to my desk clerk,’ he said.’
    • ‘The desk clerk smiled far too perkily for Simon's taste.’
    • ‘She tossed the desk clerk her key before leaving the hotel.’
    • ‘At night, he is a desk clerk at a multinational hotel watching all that come and go, having to chew on a medicinal root to stay awake.’
    • ‘The desk clerk wakes and begins to shout, ‘Can you see anything?’’
    • ‘We got our instructions from the hotel desk clerk, a blond beauty, whom we watched deftly handle business in Dutch, English, German and Spanish.’
    • ‘There is nothing more annoying at 6: 00 o'clock in the morning than a cheery-voiced desk clerk telling you it's time to get up.’
    • ‘The desk clerk at the hotel lied to the representative and claimed there were no picketers, but the customer service representative could hear the bullhorns over the phone.’
    • ‘Paulo took a deep breath and approached the desk clerk.’
    • ‘I watched her as she stared at the desk clerk wide-eyed.’
    • ‘Maze smiled and waved his card to the front desk clerk.’
    1. 2.1 An assistant in a shop.
      ‘a clerk in an ice-cream store’
      • ‘When I was 18 a 7-11 clerk refused to sell me food telling me I was too fat to eat.’
      • ‘An older woman in Florida asked the clerk in her gun shop to show her how to lock open the Kahr P9 she bought there.’
      • ‘People often must have several O-levels (equivalent to one or two years of American college) to be hired as a clerk in a store.’
      • ‘In daily life, I may look no different than your typical shoe clerk.’
      • ‘Ask the shop clerk (your new friend) to point out a couple of classic examples of Australian wines and tell you as much as possible about them.’
      • ‘‘Consider the motel housekeeper, the retail clerk at the hardware store or the coffee shop cook,’ the report said.’
      • ‘Stucco housing developments spill into the desert, fuelled by the influx of waitresses, shop clerks, card-dealers and construction workers.’
      • ‘The shop clerk, however, was unable to sleep at all.’
      • ‘They have to be shopping partners, not salespeople or clerks.’
      • ‘Jesse was checking out some pies on display when a clerk offered assistance.’
      • ‘Most of the counter clerks in the retail sector, especially in the supermarkets, came from the lower socio-economic sector.’
      • ‘Later, the second son becomes a clerk of the grain shop, comes to manage Wang Lung's finances, and marries a village maid.’
      • ‘They knew that several clerks lived in the shop and they felt that they would have to kill them in order to assure a successful robbery.’
      • ‘Hiring enough stockers and clerks to keep merchandise flowing into shopping bags may be the right call.’
      • ‘They had no luck in finding any so they asked the clerk for a specialty shop.’
      • ‘In the shop he asked a clerk what a good present would be for a friend.’
      • ‘The shop clerk moved forward until he was standing alongside Harry in front of the glass cases.’
      • ‘If that doesn't suit you, you could try asking the clerks at the fabric shop where you buy your cloth.’
      • ‘The day of the show, I was in a posh glasses shop, begging the clerks to fix the specs I'd destroyed the previous night.’
      • ‘His father worked in Kumbakonam as a clerk in a cloth merchant's shop.’
      seller, salesperson, salesman, saleswoman, dealer, trader, tradesman, retailer, shopkeeper, shopman, shop girl, shop boy, sales assistant, assistant, wholesaler, merchant, trafficker, purveyor, supplier, stockist, marketer, marketeer, sales representative, door-to-door salesman, travelling salesman, commercial traveller
      View synonyms
  • 3formal A member of the clergy.

    • ‘‘This follows allegations of conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders,’ it stated.’
    • ‘He said: ‘I think people are moving from all sorts of different trades to become clerks in holy orders now, including those who have been in the Army.’’
    • ‘He had been due to appear before a diocesan Consistory Court on 21 charges of conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders and one of serious, persistent or continuous neglect of duty.’
    • ‘One hundred and fifty years later, the situation had so changed that a distinction was drawn between mere lay scholars and clerks in holy orders.’
    • ‘He quit as he faced trial before an ecclesiastical court on 21 charges of conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders.’
    • ‘It may result in the putting on trial of the dean in the church courts on a charge of conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders, and an announcement is expected within weeks.’
    • ‘The plan to appoint a brace of relatively young clerks to vacant bishoprics would destroy any prospect of him recovering effective control over the English church.’
    • ‘Dating from the 14th century, it became home for six chaplains and three clerks before its dissolution.’
  • 4archaic A literate or scholarly person.

    • ‘Asked why he teaches, Kadish quoted a line from the general prologue of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales about the clerk (scholar) of Oxford.’


[no object]North American
  • Work as a clerk.

    ‘eleven of those who left college this year are clerking in auction stores’
    • ‘I spent a year clerking for a judge on the Fifth Circuit, whose jurisdiction stretches across Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.’
    • ‘So at 19 he took a job clerking in a housewares store, where he rose to become manager.’
    • ‘Between the customary five-month terms of the school year, Mary clerked in her father's store.’
    • ‘She is currently clerking for a federal judge in Manhattan.’
    • ‘She went to San Francisco to work and came back, clerked for a federal judge and then got a job in a law firm and just steadily worked her way up.’
    • ‘I was clerking at the Institute for Justice that summer, and a writer for Reason magazine gave away some extra copies to the clerks.’
    • ‘It was just before his final year at Stanford Law School, and he was clerking during the summer at a firm in San Francisco.’
    • ‘He will serve, it looks like, with the judge he clerked for.’
    • ‘He once again failed at everything he tried and went to work for his father clerking at the tannery store - a job he despised.’
    • ‘He had come a long way down in the world, clerking in a surf shop and teaching Australian kids and Japanese tourists to surf on his lunch hour.’
    • ‘In 1847, he began clerking in the law office of Boston abolitionist Ellis Gray Loring.’
    • ‘Practice-group leaders, who often have clerked for the Court or have argued before it, hold meetings and debates to formulate how to push case law toward Federalist principles.’
    • ‘Kneeling to cut the cords of newspaper bundles, TickTock, clerking in his father's store, grinned up.’
    • ‘When I graduated from law school in 1975, I clerked for a judge on the Ninth Circuit; at that time each judge disposed on the merits of approximately 210 cases a year.’
    • ‘Born in New York in 1816 and a graduate of Princeton, Conkling had clerked briefly in New Jersey then moved to Illinois in 1838 and was admitted to the bar that October.’
    • ‘The judge was the man for whom she had clerked, a widower with a heavy Russian accent and a love of the absurd.’
    • ‘I suffered through 13 years clerking and buying for a retail gun store to gather firearm industry experience.’
    • ‘There used to be good jobs here, but now almost everything is near-minimum-wage retail clerking.’
    • ‘It's now or never - and, let's face it, anything would be better than his day job, clerking at Mallesons.’
    • ‘After clerking, Cutler spent a year representing minority oilfield workers in an employment lawsuit.’


  • Clerk of the Closet

    • (in the UK) the sovereign's principal chaplain.

      • ‘In practice, though, it was often the Clerk of the Closet who recommended who from amongst them would be chosen.’
      • ‘She appointed him Clerk of the Closet, which meant that Butler was expected to attend nightly gatherings of men of wit and learning.’
      • ‘About three weeks after Windebank's appointment, he obtained another firm ally in Dr. Juxon, Dean of Worcester, who was made Clerk of the Closet.’
      • ‘This hat was found by Bishop Burnet, when Clerk of the Closet, in the great wardrobe and was given by his son, the Judge, to the Countess.’
      • ‘On October 20, Bishop Sentamu will pay formal homage to the Queen in private at Buckingham Palace, accompanied by a senior bishop as Clerk of the Closet.’
      • ‘In 1736 he was made Clerk of the Closet to Queen Caroline, and in the same year published his famous ‘Analogy of Religion.’’
      • ‘In 1736 he became Prebendary of Rochester and Clerk of the Closet to Queen Caroline.’
      • ‘He was made Clerk of the Closet to their majesties, and soon after consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.’
      • ‘Archbishop Davidson was first subalmoner to queen, then her domestic chaplain, then her Clerk of the Closet, a post which he continued to hold under Edward VII.’
      • ‘In 1746, upon the death of Dr Egerton, Bishop of Hereford, Dr Butler was made Clerk of the Closet to the King.’
  • clerk of the course

    • An official who assists the judges in horse racing or motor racing.

      • ‘He seems unperturbed by the pressure that the twin roles of chief executive and clerk of the course on the eve of a new season should bring.’
      • ‘Sitting in the cramped office of Ludlow's clerk of the course on Thursday, Lee still regards his unaccustomed celebrity with the detachment of a bystander in somebody else's dream.’
      • ‘Now the Wilmslow and Crewe-based dealer provides three: for the clerk of the course, for the observer and as a chase or pace car.’
      • ‘Lambert, the clerk of the course, added: ‘There was a little scuffle in which one of the crew was left sitting on the ground as Mr Wintle sought refuge in the Tote Credit office.’’
      • ‘He believes that racecourse layouts have improved enormously, with consequent benefits in safety, in recent years thanks to a new breed of clerks of the course.’
      • ‘In my role as clerk of the course at York I have never had reason to doubt the integrity of races run on Knavesmire.’
      • ‘Sandown clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said there was no choice but to abandon racing at the Surrey course.’
      • ‘They were taken out because Ascot's likeable clerk of the course upset trainers by refusing to artificially water the sun-baked turf because rain was forecast.’
      • ‘Ashley has been clerk of the course on the Mutiny Rally for many years, while Udy is secretary of the meeting for the June event.’
      • ‘Following an investigation by the clerk of the course the result for race one was amended.’
  • clerk of (the) works

    • A person who oversees building work in progress.

      • ‘The Council also had a clerk of works on site, he said.’
      • ‘Over the centuries the internal scaffolding has been used by clerks of works and architects to carry out inspections of the spire.’
      • ‘I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.’
      • ‘The builders, who are due to complete in October, have been moaning about the demands made by their clerk of works.’
      • ‘The clerk of works reported on the progress that was being quietly accomplished on the restoration operations at York Minster.’
      • ‘I have also worked with clerks of works, and I picked up a lot of information about that.’
      • ‘He became clerk of works with responsibility for Killarney National Park, Derrynane and Garnish Island.’
      • ‘He died from mesothelioma in 1998, following a career with Manchester city council as a clerk of works.’
      • ‘Together with the clerk of works we have identified those items on the snagging lists that are to be referred to you for a decision.’
      • ‘The job of clerk of the works would become director of works.’


Old English cleric, clerc (in the sense ‘ordained minister, literate person’), from ecclesiastical Latin clericus ‘clergyman’ (see cleric); reinforced by Old French clerc, from the same source. clerk (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 16th century.