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See also: Clerk


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From Middle English clerc, from Old English clerc, from Late Latin clēricus (a priest, clergyman, cleric", also generally "a learned man, clerk), from Ancient Greek κληρικός (klērikós, (adj. in church jargon) of the clergy), from κλῆρος (klêros, lot, inheritance,” originally “a shard used in casting lots). Doublet of cleric.


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clerk (plural clerks)

  1. One who occupationally works with records, accounts, letters, etc.; an office worker.
    • 1879, W[illiam] S[chwenck] Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan, composer, “When I Was a Lad”, in H.M.S. Pinafore;  [], San Francisco: Bacon & Company,  [], OCLC 181408105, page 10:
      As office boy I made such a mark
      That they game(Can we verify this quotation?) me the post of a junior clerk.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
  2. (Quakerism) A facilitator of a Quaker meeting for business affairs.
  3. (archaic) In the Church of England, the layman that assists in the church service, especially in reading the responses (also called parish clerk).
  4. (dated) A cleric or clergyman (the legal title for clergy of the Church of England is "Clerk in Holy Orders", still used in legal documents and cherished by some of their number).
  5. (obsolete) A scholar.
    • 13th century, Traditional carol,
      And all was for an appel, an appel that he toke/As clerkès finden written in their boke.

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clerk (third-person singular simple present clerks, present participle clerking, simple past and past participle clerked)

  1. To act as a clerk, to perform the duties or functions of a clerk
    • 1934, George Orwell, chapter 1, in Burmese Days[1]:
      [] for three years he had worked in the stinking labyrinth of the Mandalay bazaars, clerking for the rice merchants and sometimes stealing.
    • 1956, Jean Stafford, "A Reading Problem" in The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1984, p. 332,
      In the winter, they lived in a town called Hoxie, Arkansas, where Evangelist Gerlash clerked in the Buttorf drugstore and preached and baptized on the side.
    The law school graduate clerked for the supreme court judge for the summer.

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