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From Middle English preist, preest, from Old English prēost (priest), from Late Latin presbyter, from Ancient Greek πρεσβύτερος (presbúteros), from πρέσβυς (présbus, elder, older). Reinforced in Middle English by Old French prestre, also from Latin presbyter.



priest (plural priests)

  1. A religious clergyman who is trained to perform services or sacrifices at a church or temple.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
    The priest at the Catholic church heard his confession.
    The Shinto priest burnt incense for his ancestors.
    The Israelite priests were descended from Moses' brother Aaron.
  2. A blunt tool, used for quickly stunning and killing fish.
  3. (Mormonism) The highest office in the Aaronic priesthood.

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priest (third-person singular simple present priests, present participle priesting, simple past and past participle priested)

  1. (transitive) To ordain as a priest.