A priest is a religious figure who performs ceremonies, particularly in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Orthodox church. During a Catholic baptism, a priest sprinkles holy water on a baby's head.

Though priests are often thought of as Christian, there are other religions with priests, including some branches of Shintoism and Hinduism. Priests often lead religious services, perform weddings and other religious rites, and in many cases work full time for their churches. Priest comes from the Old English prēost, and it shares a root with Presbyterian, the Greek presbyteros, "an elder."

Definitions of priest
  1. noun
    a clergyman in Christian churches who has the authority to perform or administer various religious rites; one of the Holy Orders
    see moresee less
    (Old Testament) elder brother of Moses and first high priest of the Israelites; created the golden calf
    Domingo de Guzman
    (Roman Catholic Church) Spanish priest who founded an order whose members became known as Dominicans or Black Friars (circa 1170-1221)
    show 21 types...
    hide 21 types...
    archpriest, hierarch, high priest, prelate, primate
    a senior clergyman and dignitary
    a senior member of the Christian clergy having spiritual and administrative authority; appointed in Christian churches to oversee priests or ministers; considered in some churches to be successors of the twelve Apostles of Christ
    a priest who is a member of a cathedral chapter
    an officiating priest celebrating the Eucharist
    a priest who hears confession and gives absolution
    domestic prelate
    (Roman Catholic Church) a priest who is an honorary member of the papal household
    Father, Padre
    `Father' is a term of address for priests in some churches (especially the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Catholic Church); `Padre' is frequently used in the military
    (Roman Catholic Church) an ecclesiastical title of honor bestowed on some priests
    a member of the highest council of priests in ancient Rome
    a woman priest
    a Roman Catholic priest who acts for another higher-ranking clergyman
    a bishop of highest rank
    (Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes
    a bishop having jurisdiction over a diocese
    a bishop or metropolitan in charge of an eparchy in the Eastern Church
    a bishop in eastern Christendom who holds a place below a patriarch but above a metropolitan
    a bishop in one of several Eastern Orthodox Churches in North America
    a canon who receives a prebend for serving the church
    the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of Scotland
    suffragan, suffragan bishop
    an assistant or subordinate bishop of a diocese
    vicar apostolic
    a titular Roman Catholic bishop in a non-Catholic area
    type of:
    clergyman, man of the cloth, reverend
    a member of the clergy and a spiritual leader of the Christian Church
    Holy Order, Order
    (usually plural) the status or rank or office of a Christian clergyman in an ecclesiastical hierarchy
  2. noun
    a person who performs religious duties and ceremonies in a non-Christian religion
    synonyms: non-Christian priest
    see moresee less
    a Jewish priest and scribe sent by the Persian king to restore Jewish law and worship in Jerusalem
    show 13 types...
    hide 13 types...
    a pre-Christian priest among the Celts of ancient Gaul and Britain and Ireland
    a priest who served a particular deity in ancient Rome
    a practitioner of voodoo
    a Tibetan or Mongolian priest of Lamaism
    a member of the Zoroastrian priesthood of the ancient Persians
    priest-doctor, shaman
    in societies practicing shamanism: one acting as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds; practices sorcery for healing or divination
    a priest or priestess (or consecrated worshipper) in a non-Christian religion or cult
    vestal virgin
    (Roman mythology) one of the virgin priestesses consecrated to the Roman goddess Vesta and to maintaining the sacred fire in her temple
    (classical mythology) a priest or votary of Bacchus
    (classical mythology) a priestess or votary of Bacchus
    Dalai Lama, Grand Lama
    chief lama and once ruler of Tibet
    Panchen Lama
    the lama next in rank to the Dalai Lama
    medicine man
    a Native American shaman
    type of:
    spiritual leader
    a leader in religious or sacred affairs
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week