Definition of rector in English:



  • 1(in the Church of England) the incumbent of a parish where all tithes formerly passed to the incumbent.

    Compare with vicar
    • ‘The husband of a church rector will be pedalling 1,000 miles to raise money to repair the church roof.’
    • ‘The farmers now decided that they should also get some relief in their Tithe payments and deputations went to the rectors in the parish.’
    • ‘I think it's hard sometimes, when new rectors are appointed to churches, for congregations to be completely open in their welcome.’
    • ‘Tickets are available from the rector, church wardens and the parish office.’
    • ‘The eldest son is the rector of four conjoined parishes nearby.’
    1. 1.1 (in other Anglican Churches) a member of the clergy who has charge of a parish.
      • ‘The Reverend William Matheus, another member, was assistant rector at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, a bulwark of progressive social causes.’
      • ‘‘The font was used to baptise Dr Kathleen Lynn; her father was the Anglican rector of the parish in 1874,’ pointed out a local.’
      • ‘According to the bishop of London the Anglican rector of South Hackney helped create the shrines, which were visited by the Queen in 1917.’
      • ‘The new rector of the Scottish Episcopal Church in Orkney, Reverend Alison Duff, was installed into her charge at a service in Kirkwall on Wednesday night.’
      • ‘Sandy's friend, the Anglican priest and rector of St. Anne's, the Reverend John Gordon, would officiate.’
      minister, priest, parson, minister of religion, clergyman, clergywoman, cleric, churchman, churchwoman, ecclesiastic, pastor, father, man of the cloth, woman of the cloth, man of god, woman of god, curate, chaplain, curé, presbyter, preacher, lay preacher, evangelist, divine
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    2. 1.2 (in the Roman Catholic Church) a priest in charge of a church or of a religious institution.
      • ‘When the site is fully restored, the local rector Rev Lynda Peilow and the Roman Catholic priest Fr Gerard O'Byrne will hold a ceremony and remaining family members of those buried there will be invited to attend.’
  • 2The head of certain universities, colleges, and schools.

    • ‘The university rector is asked to form a team of Papuan intellectuals to start the process.’
    • ‘The rector or another faculty member leads grace.’
    • ‘The responsibilities of university rectors and senior administrators are not clearly defined.’
    • ‘A former rector of the college, he said: ‘At the moment, we do not feel under threat from that direction.’’
    • ‘The university rector was appointed for four years by the minister of education and was subordinate to the curator of his educational district.’
    head, chief, director, leader, governor, principal, master, chancellor, vice chancellor, dean, warden, provost, captain, figurehead
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    1. 2.1 (in Scotland) an elected representative of students on a university's governing body.
      • ‘That was what he told the students of Edinburgh University in his inaugural address as their rector.’
      • ‘Brown, with his trademark long hair and tweed jackets, had undertaken a well organised campaign to be elected rector, a post unique to Scottish universities.’
      • ‘The rector is the senior representative for the university's 17,000 students and chairs the University Court, which is the governing body for the whole university.’
      • ‘This defiance is surely what appealed to the Glasgow students who voted him rector.’
      • ‘Both have been nominated by students as potential rectors of St Andrews University in Scotland.’


Late Middle English: from Latin rector ‘ruler’, from rect- ‘ruled’, from the verb regere.