Definition of friar in US English:



  • A member of any of certain religious orders of men, especially the four mendicant orders (Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans).

    • ‘When the first missionary friars arrived in what was then called New Spain, they decided to evangelize the indigenous peoples in their own languages.’
    • ‘In the 1200's, members of new religious orders, called friars, began to work among the people.’
    • ‘Michael Robson analyzes the preaching and service of Dominican and Franciscan friars.’
    • ‘It is possible that the panel was painted for a Franciscan friar - presumably someone of standing, or who had wealthy connections outside the convent.’
    • ‘One document acknowledges an archdeacon's grant of the use of his books to a house of Franciscan friars, who were to keep the books when the donor died.’
    • ‘Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar, and a theological giant.’
    • ‘There is a further reason for the insistence on Francis's garden that is worth considering, namely, that its presence might have helped Thomas to legitimize Francis's new order of friars.’
    • ‘The foundation of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders of friars in the thirteenth century transformed the spiritual life of the Western Church.’
    • ‘He was in early life a Dominican friar, but broke from his order and left Italy to avoid prosecution for heresy.’
    • ‘Straub spent more than a year living with Franciscan friars working in impoverished areas all over the world, including India, Jamaica, and the United States.’
    • ‘At the height of the indulgence sale, Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar from Germany, traveled to Rome and was shocked by what he saw.’
    • ‘‘Who are they,’ Francis lamented towards the end of his life, ‘who have torn my order and my friars from my hands?’’
    • ‘As the prayer evolved, so did the congregation, grappling with an issue that Reamer says goes to the very core of his mission as a Franciscan friar.’
    • ‘The Carmelite friars who made up the community in Leighlinbridge were Normans from the Carmelite Province of England where the two principal friaries were at Aylesford and Hulne.’
    • ‘The laity, however, reserved their deepest respect for the celibate, highly-educated Franciscan friars.’
    • ‘While scholars had already located several copies of the other two, the Abbotsford House book is the only known translation by Osbern Bokenham, the Augustinian friar and poet.’
    • ‘The family came to prominence when Francesco della Rovere, a Franciscan friar from an obscure noble family based in the far-flung Marche region, became Pope in 1471.’
    • ‘A Franciscan friar, much of Bacon's life is obscure, but he was born in Somerset and probably studied at Oxford before teaching in Paris.’
    • ‘He was a man who was in training to wear the brown robe of a Franciscan friar.’
    • ‘Such language, even coming as it was from the mouth of a Dominican friar, was bound to get Savonarola in trouble.’
    monk, brother, male member of a religious order, religious, contemplative
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French frere, from Latin frater ‘brother’.