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

n 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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(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)
Saint Ambrose
(Roman Catholic Church) Roman priest who became bishop of Milan; the first Church Father born and raised in the Christian faith; composer of hymns; imposed orthodoxy on the early Christian church and built up its secular power; a saint and Doctor of the Church (340?-397)
Saint Anselm
an Italian who was a Benedictine monk; was archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109; one of the founders of scholasticism; best known for his proof of the existence of God
Saint Thomas a Becket
(Roman Catholic Church) archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170; murdered following his opposition to Henry II's attempts to control the clergy (1118-1170)
Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmine
Italian cardinal and theologian (1542-1621)
Bishop Berkeley
Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop who opposed the materialism of Thomas Hobbes (1685-1753)
Cesare Borgia
Italian cardinal and military leader; model for Machiavelli's prince (1475-1507)
Eusebius of Caesarea
Christian bishop of Caesarea in Palestine; a church historian and a leading early Christian exegete (circa 270-340)
Saint Ignatius
bishop of Antioch who was martyred under the Roman Emperor Trajan (died 110)
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)
St. Martin
French bishop who is a patron saint of France (died in 397)
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)
Saint Nicholas
a bishop in Asia Minor who is associated with Santa Claus (4th century)
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)
Bishop Ulfilas
a Christian believed to be of Cappadocian descent who became bishop of the Visigoths in 341 and translated the Bible from Greek into Gothic; traditionally held to have invented the Gothic alphabet (311-382)
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)
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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

n a person who performs religious duties and ceremonies in a non-Christian religion

non-Christian priest
a Jewish priest and scribe sent by the Persian king to restore Jewish law and worship in Jerusalem
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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

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