Definition of vicar in English:



  • 1(in the Church of England) an incumbent of a parish where tithes formerly passed to a chapter or religious house or layperson.

    Compare with rector (sense 1 of the noun)
    • ‘In our recent report of the 50th anniversary celebrations at St Nicholas Primary School at Old Marston, Oxford, we described the Rev Paul Rimmer as the parish vicar.’
    • ‘I was wondering if you could direct me to the vicar's house.’
    • ‘But parishioners at St Laurence's, the town's parish church, just a stone's throw away, were up in arms because their own vicar's house is Chorley's official rectory.’
    • ‘Chairman of the trust and the vicar for the parishes of Dalton, Askam and Ireleth, the Rev Allan Mitchell, said there was a ‘great need’ for such a facility in the town.’
    • ‘Growing up in rural Sussex, our parish vicar was a mad-keen racing fan and a good tipster.’
    • ‘The Rev George Moffat, the team vicar for the Manningham parish, said church officials were concerned about the lack of police response to the incident and had written to complain.’
    • ‘A looming financial crisis could leave a parish without a full-time vicar this year.’
    • ‘Rob leads prayers twice a month at Greenfield Baptist and Congregational Church in Urmston, Trafford, because the parish can't afford a vicar of its own.’
    • ‘Boulliau was ordained in 1630, becoming a vicar in a parish including Loudun.’
    • ‘But the vicar, whose former parishes include Rochdale and Ashton under Lyne, did not let the incident put him off his marathon ride.’
    • ‘The Corbridge pele, built of reused Roman stonework, lies on the edge of the churchyard and was the vicar's house.’
    • ‘The vicar of the parish, Banks, is excessively sentimental about the church and is constantly importuning Stannard with hesitations and objections.’
    • ‘The Scarborough self-defence business chief has his hands on a new career as a Church of England vicar, after being recommended for an ordination course by the Archbishop of York.’
    • ‘The movement claims as active members 40 or 50 Church of England vicars and some Catholic priests.’
    • ‘On these grounds the requirement for bishops to have served fifteen years in a parish, and vicars five as a curate, were also clear improvements.’
    • ‘For 12 months cameras will follow the fortunes of the St Mary Magdalene's, which at present is being looked after by a vicar from a neighbouring parish, as the new incumbent tries to make a difference.’
    • ‘Alistair, the 25-year-old comedian of the show, has even received fan-mail from the local vicar, the parish council and the Mayor of Scarborough.’
    • ‘Female curates are acceptable in many parishes but not as vicars and that has to change.’
    • ‘She later earned a doctorate in psychology from Fordham University, and was the vicar for religious in the Trenton Diocese.’
    • ‘He said that as the parish vicar he would have expected his child to attend All Saints as it is a church school.’
    1. 1.1 (in other Anglican Churches) a member of the clergy deputizing for another.
      • ‘The Carlisle diocese has started its search for a part-time vicar to fill some of the duties of the Reverend Harry Brown at one of two small parishes near Kendal.’
      minister, rector, priest, parson, minister of religion, clergyman, clergywoman, cleric, churchman, churchwoman, ecclesiastic, pastor, father, man of the cloth, woman of the cloth, man of god, woman of god, curate, chaplain, curé, presbyter, preacher, lay preacher, evangelist, divine
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (in the Roman Catholic Church) a representative or deputy of a bishop.
      • ‘The power to sack vicars would be given to bishops under a proposed ‘common tenure’ arrangement for all clergy, including curates, cathedral canons and the bishops themselves.’
      • ‘Mr Sterry, 48, came to Whalley in 1994 as chaplain to the Bishop of Blackburn before becoming a vicar and warden of Whalley Abbey in 1997.’
      • ‘Two vicars have quit their positions on the Bishop of Manchester's staff in protest at a decision to cancel a controversial gay and lesbian service at the city's cathedral.’
      • ‘Bishops should resume their traditional roles as vicars of Christ in their own dioceses and be prepared to consult with the presbyteral, pastoral, and finance councils provided for in canon law.’
      • ‘Mr John will be licensed and welcomed as team vicar by the Bishop of Bradford at St Paul's Church, Manningham, on December 5.’
      • ‘The Pope's vicar or deputy for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Luini, also continues in his functions of providing for the pastoral needs of the city.’
      • ‘Now, I suspect that most of us read this anecdote with a somewhat bemused attitude at the daring of the vicar for having asked something so time-consuming of his bishop.’
    3. 1.3 (in the US Episcopal Church) a member of the clergy in charge of a chapel.
    4. 1.4 A cleric or choir member appointed to sing certain parts of a cathedral service.
      • ‘And certain vicars choral did succumb to the temptation of female company.’
      • ‘Two of the vicars choral were sitting by the fire.’
      • ‘From 1692 to 1695 he was organist at Winchester College, and in 1699 he was made a vicar choral and organist of St Paul's Cathedral.’


Middle English: via Anglo-Norman French from Old French vicaire, from Latin vicarius ‘substitute’, from vic- ‘change, turn, place’ (compare with vice).