prelate

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy, such as a cardinal, abbot, or bishop, who has authority over lesser clergy. Both Catholic and Protestant religions have prelates in their ranks.

The source of prelate is the Latin adjective praelatus, "noble," whose meaning is appropriate to the modern meaning, a high-level church dignitary. The word was applied to those high-ranking clergymen around the beginning of the 13th century, the Middle English coming from the Middle French prelat. As the church's importance increased, so did the importance implied by the word prelate. Ambrose Bierce referred to a prelate as "one of Heaven's aristocracy."

Definitions of prelate
1

n a senior clergyman and dignitary

Synonyms:
archpriest, hierarch, high priest, primate
Examples:
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William Ralph Inge
English prelate noted for his pessimistic sermons and articles (1860-1954)
Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros
prelate who was the confessor of Isabella I and who was later appointed Grand Inquisitor (1436-1517)
John Henry Newman
English prelate and theologian who (with John Keble and Edward Pusey) founded the Oxford movement; Newman later turned to Roman Catholicism and became a cardinal (1801-1890)
Armand Jean du Plessis
French prelate and statesman; principal minister to Louis XIII (1585-1642)
Desmond Tutu
South African prelate and leader of the antiapartheid struggle (born in 1931)
James Ussher
Irish prelate who deduced from the Bible that Creation occurred in the year 4004 BC (1581-1656)
William of Wykeham
English prelate and statesman; founded a college at Oxford and Winchester College in Winchester; served as chancellor of England and bishop of Winchester (1324-1404)
Stefan Wyszynski
Polish prelate who persuaded the Soviet to allow greater religious freedom in Poland (1901-1981)
Type of:
priest
a clergyman in Christian churches who has the authority to perform or administer various religious rites; one of the Holy Orders

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