One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The wife of a presbyter or priest. Now historical.
2A female presbyter; specifically a member of an order of women in the early Church, having some of the functions of presbyters.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in John Bale (1495–1563), bishop of Ossory, evangelical polemicist, and historian. From post-classical Latin presbyterissa woman serving the church, priest's wife from presbyter + -issa.
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