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From Old Northern French consistorie (secular tribunal) (Old French consistoire), and Late Latin consistorium (waiting room, meeting place of the imperial council). Meaning "Church council" is from early 14th century.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈsɪstəɹi/
    • (file)


consistory (plural consistories)

  1. A place of standing or staying together; hence, any solemn assembly or council.
  2. The spiritual court of a diocesan bishop held before his chancellor or commissioner in his cathedral church or elsewhere.
    • 1860-1876, Walter Hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury
      In 1551 we find Bertholier excommunicated by the consistory because he would not allow that he had done wrong in asserting that he was as good a man as Calvin
  3. An assembly of prelates; a session of the college of cardinals at Rome.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “(please specify |century=I to X)”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
      Pius [] [was] then hearing of causes in consistory.
  4. A church tribunal or governing body, especially of elders in a Reformed church.
  5. (Can we clean up(+) this sense?) (obsolete) A civil court of justice.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)