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.

    ‘the priest celebrated mass at a small altar off the north transept’
    • ‘The priests of the Roman Catholic Church are ordained men, accustomed to trust and honor in the communities they serve.’
    • ‘Catholic priests are the church leaders, with one serving several villages in a contiguous area.’
    • ‘Catholic priests and other ministers have taken vows of poverty or vowed to live meekly.’
    • ‘Three members of the congregation at St James' Church in Devizes are to undergo training to become Anglican priests.’
    • ‘After leaving Perth he was a priest at the Anglican Church of St Augustine at Bulli in New South Wales.’
    • ‘Around about age 13 I got the idea that I ought to be a priest in the Anglican church.’
    • ‘Coun Dodd is an Anglican priest who spent several years as a hospital chaplain at Castle Hill hospital near Hull.’
    • ‘Roman Catholic priests lead mass and deliver the sacrament.’
    • ‘Marriage may be conducted by a celebrant, a Church priest, or a vicar.’
    • ‘Classes were taught by the Jesuit priests and brothers and a few civilian instructors.’
    • ‘Because of the strong influence of the Catholic Church, priests are the most important religious practitioners at the local level.’
    • ‘Ordained an Anglican priest, he did keep up with his era's intellectual currents.’
    • ‘In the Eastern Orthodox religion, priests are the primary religious authorities; they are permitted to marry.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To be ordained a priest in the Church, a person had to be able to read Syriac and learn the Syriac liturgy by heart.’
    • ‘Within months, the masons had built a stone church and the priests had baptized the king and most of the nobility.’
    • ‘Catholic priests or Protestant ministers can be most stimulating in such a discussion.’
    • ‘Most important, the closings underscore what the much-discussed priest shortage really means.’
    • ‘The priest blesses the couple, and they officially become husband and wife.’
    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.
      ‘the plays were performed within the sacred area of Dionysus, in the presence of his priest’
      • ‘Hindu Yogis, Greek priests, and Christian martyrs all fasted.’
      • ‘Meet some of the Hindu priests and experience a fire ritual.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Shinto priest asked for reasons the couple should not be married and had them exchange vows and rings.’
      • ‘The Brahmanas are rituals and prayers to guide the priests in their duties.’
      • ‘Spirit priests and Taoist masters are usually men who study religious texts to learn their specialty.’
      • ‘At the top were the Brahmans, priests of the sacrificial religion and intellectuals.’
      • ‘For most indigenous religions, priests and priestesses are common.’
      • ‘At temples, priests care for religious icons, which are believed to contain the essence of the deities they represent.’
      • ‘Kahler also discovered that the gatekeeper was using the mausoleum as a place for Taoist priests to hold their religious rites.’
      • ‘Pandas are hereditary priests who assist pilgrims with the temple rituals and record the visit in their pilgrim register.’
      • ‘By day, the priests and priestesses performed enactments for people who came to the temple.’
      • ‘Over 5,000 guests attended the Vedic ceremony where Brahmin priests chanted mantras.’
      • ‘The marriage ceremony is known as Chumulong and is performed by Buddhist priests.’
      • ‘The Shinto priest stood on the second step, the groom on the first.’
      • ‘A Shinto priest blesses the ring, and it is considered holy ground.’
      • ‘Before noon of the same day, that forge was blessed by the monastic priests of nearby Kadavul Temple.’
      • ‘Similar new castes have been established as the need arose by gurus and priests throughout Hindu history.’
  • 2A mallet used to kill fish caught when angling.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other items that you will always need include a priest for despatching any fish that you intend to keep to eat.’


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

    ‘he was made deacon in 1990 and priested in 1994’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She will be one of three women deacons in the diocese, but only until June 24 when the other two become priested.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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