Definition of ecclesiastic in English:



  • A priest or member of the clergy.

    • ‘In the early 13th cent. there was a French court, comprising six ecclesiastics and six laymen, known as ‘the Twelve Peers of France’; this court in 1202 declared King John deprived of his fiefs in France.’
    • ‘Froghopping discreetly from soggy new wave to ecclesiastic country twang, Red Sparowes find a way to the beat tedium inherent to their genus - then ride it for so long that… are you paying attention?’
    • ‘For a very long time ecclesiastics were the only keepers and users of documents and books, and for these precious materials they created special although rudimentary structures: the library, the archive, the scriptorium.’
    • ‘Frequently visited by princes and high ecclesiastics, the monastery soon became famous.’
    • ‘Consequently, the Magyars received their knowledge of Christianity partly from the Catholic population already existing in the country, and partly from the ecclesiastics whom they captured in their marauding expeditions.’
    • ‘Hosts of rebellious peasants traversed the country from end to end, furiously attacked castles, churches, and convents, and murdered noblemen and ecclesiastics.’
    • ‘These body parts were not only institutionally and economically important, they also carried political power for ecclesiastics and secular leaders because of the religious powers vested in them by both lay people and churchmen.’
    • ‘Tombs of ecclesiastics (Obazine Abbey, Hereford Cathedral) were made deliberately shrinelike, with relief carving or a pinnacled canopy.’
    • ‘Then, in what amounts to a stunning yet unheralded philosophical inversion, throngs of ecclesiastics and scholars began to declare that it was the laws of physics themselves that served as proof of the wisdom and power of God.’
    • ‘Ranking ecclesiastics took up the time of U.S. decision makers, badgering them about whether they had thought of this possible consequence or that.’
    • ‘Reform-minded kings, monks, and bishops in England, influenced by norms promoted on the continent in the late eighth and ninth centuries by Carolingian rulers and ecclesiastics, drew up demanding blueprints for the clerical life.’
    • ‘Used by high ecclesiastics, these simple, boxlike chairs evolved from earlier folding chairs and changed very little in design over the ensuing two centuries.’
    • ‘Some of the authors are academics, some ecclesiastics, and some practitioners such as psychologists.’
    • ‘It is clear that there were established bishoprics in the four provinces of the Constantinian period, and ecclesiastics attended international church conferences.’
    • ‘Thus, while Pollard's book is about the papacy, it is more often about the managers of the pope's finances, a highly select group of ecclesiastics and lay people well disposed toward keeping the Vatican solvent.’
    • ‘This second strategy, though clearly popular, leaves much to be desired, as it relies on the same distancing of ecclesiastics from business that gives rise to the problem in the first place.’
    • ‘Fortunately this did not spell the end of his philosophical career, since the controversy attracted the attention of Cardinal de Retz, who was known for his radical spirit of reform among conservative ecclesiastics in France.’
    • ‘If ecclesiastics and theologians decide to engage the Faith at Work movement-to get into the Integration Box, so to speak-I envision great possibilities for the church at large and the society it serves.’
    • ‘A major problem is the lack of priests and other ecclesiastics, whose numbers declined drastically during the Soviet period.’
    • ‘He next went with Dollinger to Rome, where he met Italian rationalists and high ecclesiastics.’
    • ‘In the Neapolitan and Sicilian provinces, parishes were scattered, bishoprics penniless, and priests insubordinate: more than half the ecclesiastics convicted of felonies in 1874 served the cross in the Mezzogiorno.’
    clergyman, clergywoman, priest, churchman, churchwoman, man of the cloth, woman of the cloth, man of god, woman of god, cleric, minister, preacher, chaplain, father
    View synonyms


  • another term for ecclesiastical
    • ‘Since the twelfth century, the historic, northern city of Braga has been Portugal's ecclesiastic capital and the seat of the country's archbishops.’
    • ‘The service itself passed in a blur of kindly faces, murmured condolences and ecclesiastic efficiency.’
    • ‘The relatively limited success of new religious movements in Italy can not only be directly linked to the effervescence of the Catholic lay religious aggregations but also to a specific ecclesiastic strategy and structure.’
    • ‘There is no ecclesiastic authority, and I dare say there never will be one dominating ecclesiastical authority over all Pagans and Wiccans.’
    • ‘It still hand-makes clothes, shirts, ties, academic and ecclesiastic wear.’
    • ‘But reports such as these were relatively few, and serious ecclesiastic authorities sought to distance themselves from such improbable tales of celestial intervention in the election campaign.’
    • ‘Having given birth to the earliest Protestants, she sees to it that her children's influence will spread and divide a land already weakened by ecclesiastic corruption.’
    • ‘The elevated perspective in Leonardo's work was of course a tribute to the ecclesiastic destination of his work.’
    • ‘Article I gives no ecclesiastic powers to the legislature, and gives no formal role for any ecclesiastic authority in the legislative process.’
    • ‘The city's East Side, where Eastern European immigrants conceived grandiose works of ecclesiastic architecture before moving to neighboring suburbs like West Seneca and Cheektowaga, is inhabited largely by African Americans.’
    • ‘Nothing survives which was painted by van Eyck for the Duke, but other works by him indicate that wealthy middle-class and ecclesiastic patrons followed the lead of the Burgundian Duke.’
    • ‘Weber's model was questioned by his contemporaries, most strongly by Troeltsch, who suggested that there exists no direct road from the ecclesiastic culture of Protestantism to non-ecclesiastic modern culture.’
    • ‘The artists here draw on a legacy that includes ecclesiastic art, church murals, icons and silver crosses to create works in a modern vernacular.’
    • ‘Italy is the exception, and reveals an unexpected variant of ecclesiastic modernization strategies.’
    • ‘He deposed old dynasties, abolished aristocratic and ecclesiastic privileges, and united regions, gradually establishing uniform legal, administrative, fiscal, and conscription systems.’
    • ‘The cautious response of the Church to the 1948 wave of visions and miracles was consistent with the centuries-old prudence and reserve with which the ecclesiastic order has approached the question of the supernatural.’
    • ‘Before the eighteenth century, the former inspired quests for ecclesiastic union, while the latter functioned in the civil sphere.’
    • ‘Two churchmen within the diocese of Kildare & Leighlin hold the ecclesiastic title of vicar general.’
    • ‘Once again, the difference between contemporary Catholic ecclesiastic policies in Italy and France is emblematic.’
    • ‘The ecclesiastic courts, given the scope of their jurisdiction, could have heard at least some of these cases.’


Late Middle English: from French ecclésiastique, or via late Latin from Greek ekklēsiastikos, from ekklēsiastēs ‘member of an assembly’, from ekklēsia ‘assembly, church’, based on ekkalein ‘summon out’.