Definition of priest in US English:



  • 1An ordained minister of the Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican Church having the authority to perform certain rites and administer certain sacraments.

    • ‘Catholic priests or Protestant ministers can be most stimulating in such a discussion.’
    • ‘Coun Dodd is an Anglican priest who spent several years as a hospital chaplain at Castle Hill hospital near Hull.’
    • ‘Because of the strong influence of the Catholic Church, priests are the most important religious practitioners at the local level.’
    • ‘Around about age 13 I got the idea that I ought to be a priest in the Anglican church.’
    • ‘The priests of the Roman Catholic Church are ordained men, accustomed to trust and honor in the communities they serve.’
    • ‘Marriage may be conducted by a celebrant, a Church priest, or a vicar.’
    • ‘Three members of the congregation at St James' Church in Devizes are to undergo training to become Anglican priests.’
    • ‘To be ordained a priest in the Church, a person had to be able to read Syriac and learn the Syriac liturgy by heart.’
    • ‘Catholic priests are the church leaders, with one serving several villages in a contiguous area.’
    • ‘Classes were taught by the Jesuit priests and brothers and a few civilian instructors.’
    • ‘Roman Catholic priests lead mass and deliver the sacrament.’
    • ‘Local priests hold religious services and perform baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals.’
    • ‘They were delighted to have me for Mass in their little church as the parish priest visited only every three months.’
    • ‘The priest blesses the couple, and they officially become husband and wife.’
    • ‘Catholic priests and other ministers have taken vows of poverty or vowed to live meekly.’
    • ‘Ordained an Anglican priest, he did keep up with his era's intellectual currents.’
    • ‘After leaving Perth he was a priest at the Anglican Church of St Augustine at Bulli in New South Wales.’
    • ‘Within months, the masons had built a stone church and the priests had baptized the king and most of the nobility.’
    • ‘In the Eastern Orthodox religion, priests are the primary religious authorities; they are permitted to marry.’
    • ‘Most important, the closings underscore what the much-discussed priest shortage really means.’
    clergyman, clergywoman, minister, minister of religion, cleric, ecclesiastic, pastor, parson, churchman, churchwoman, man of the cloth, woman of the cloth, man of god, woman of god, father
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who performs religious ceremonies and duties in a non-Christian religion.
      • ‘Spirit priests and Taoist masters are usually men who study religious texts to learn their specialty.’
      • ‘Hindu Yogis, Greek priests, and Christian martyrs all fasted.’
      • ‘All Witches are priests or priestesses and can command their own rituals, they need no blessing other than from the Gods.’
      • ‘Most of the sons of the Hindu priests are not entering the priesthood, as they no longer find it remunerative.’
      • ‘A Shinto priest blesses the ring, and it is considered holy ground.’
      • ‘The decree requires that the priests and priestesses of Kolophon visit the altars in the old agora to acknowledge the ties between the old site and the current site of the city.’
      • ‘Over 5,000 guests attended the Vedic ceremony where Brahmin priests chanted mantras.’
      • ‘The Shinto priest stood on the second step, the groom on the first.’
      • ‘Pandas are hereditary priests who assist pilgrims with the temple rituals and record the visit in their pilgrim register.’
      • ‘Kahler also discovered that the gatekeeper was using the mausoleum as a place for Taoist priests to hold their religious rites.’
      • ‘For most indigenous religions, priests and priestesses are common.’
      • ‘At the top were the Brahmans, priests of the sacrificial religion and intellectuals.’
      • ‘By day, the priests and priestesses performed enactments for people who came to the temple.’
      • ‘Meet some of the Hindu priests and experience a fire ritual.’
      • ‘The marriage ceremony is known as Chumulong and is performed by Buddhist priests.’
      • ‘The Brahmanas are rituals and prayers to guide the priests in their duties.’
      • ‘Before noon of the same day, that forge was blessed by the monastic priests of nearby Kadavul Temple.’
      • ‘The Shinto priest asked for reasons the couple should not be married and had them exchange vows and rings.’
      • ‘Similar new castes have been established as the need arose by gurus and priests throughout Hindu history.’
      • ‘At temples, priests care for religious icons, which are believed to contain the essence of the deities they represent.’
  • 2A mallet used to kill fish caught when angling.

    • ‘Other items that you will always need include a priest for despatching any fish that you intend to keep to eat.’
    • ‘If taking a fish for the pot then it should be killed quickly and cleanly with a priest or knife then bagged out of sight.’
    • ‘Finished coracles are also delivered complete with a handcrafted priest or knocker used to humanely kill caught fish as a reminder that you are purchasing a historical fishing craft rather than a recreational toy.’


[with object]usually be priested
  • Ordain to the priesthood.

    • ‘I spoke about my vocation, which was originally about being a preacher of the Word, and how unexpected it was therefore, at the end of my deacon year, to find that being priested was such a special and moving event.’
    • ‘Former Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, ordained Cate as a deacon at Romsey Abbey in 2001 and the curate was priested the following year.’
    • ‘As the church in Wales at that time did not allow women priests she had to wait until January 1997 to be priested in St Asaph's Cathedral.’
    • ‘In practical terms it will mean that priests will spend their time priesting as distinct from the amalgam of very different duties they now perform.’
    • ‘She will be one of three women deacons in the diocese, but only until June 24 when the other two become priested.’


Old English prēost, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch priester, German Priester, based on ecclesiastical Latin presbyter ‘elder’ (see presbyter).