Definition of clerisy in US English:



  • usually treated as plural A distinct class of learned or literary people.

    ‘the clerisy are those who read for pleasure’
    • ‘Such moments have, for the most part, been reserved in this book for the loners whose poems unequivocally evade the inhibiting classifications of the author's grum-bummed clerisy.’
    • ‘Indeed, more than a few members of the South's clerisy openly admitted that the revolt had forced them into a more self-conscious inquiry into the institution of slavery itself.’
    • ‘However, he did discuss in a few writings, albeit briefly, his notion of a clerisy, a doctrine common in the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘Further he is a poet, and one who lives in a country where the majority of the populace are not of his culture, so that his poems are necessarily written for an absent clerisy.’
    • ‘It helps defuse the self-serving pomposity of much of the journalistic clerisy.’
    • ‘It reads rather like a candidate's essay for entry to membership of the US academic inner clerisy via an elaborately obscure text on an almost impenetrably dull topic.’
    • ‘In Britain, his main gripes were spreading suburbia, neglected defences, and the rise of a pliant state-educated clerisy.’
    • ‘What he wants is a tame clerisy as well as tame courts, legislators, and news media.’
    • ‘Yet their idea of the social community was not itself religious; it had no specific theology or clerisy to give it determinate shape.’
    • ‘The skills of working practitioners are found in constant dialogue with the theoretical wisdom of the clerisy.’
    • ‘The existence of a clerisy would seem to signify a meritocratic rather than an egalitarian society.’


Early 19th century: apparently influenced by German Klerisei, based on Greek klēros ‘heritage’ (see cleric).