Definition of abbacy in US English:


nounPlural abbacies

  • The office or period of office of an abbot or abbess.

    • ‘Under the abbacy of St Ailred, it flourished, becoming the largest Cistercian community in England.’
    • ‘The king retained his influence over elections to abbacies and bishoprics, and continued to receive their revenues during vacancies.’
    • ‘Nobles occupied all bishoprics and all the choicest abbacies and canonries.’
    • ‘Some of its clergy married, and abbacies could be held by secular men.’
    • ‘The distribution and control of offices, such as countships, abbacies, and bishoprics, became the main foci of the political rivalries.’
    • ‘During his abbacy, he kept the Buckfast community abreast of changes in the outside world.’


Late Middle English: from ecclesiastical Latin abbacia, from abbas, abbat- (see abbot).