A cleric (Ancient Greek "κληρικός" - klērikos), clergyman (pl. clergymen), or churchman (pl. churchmen) is a member of the clergy of a religion, especially one who is a priest, preacher, or other religious professional. It is often used to refer to the religious leadership in Islam, where the term "priest" is not accurate and where terms such as "Alim" are not widely understood in the English-speaking world.

Within Christianity, especially in Eastern Christianity and Roman Catholicism, the term "cleric" refers to any individual who has received the clerical tonsure, including deacons, priests, and bishops. In Roman Catholicism, the tonsure was a prerequisite for receiving any of the minor orders or major orders before the minor orders and the subdiaconate were abolished following the Second Vatican Council. Thus those individuals who have received the tonsure, but are not deacons, priests, or bishops, are properly referred to as clerics. [ Cleric] - "Catholic Encyclopedia"] Minor Orders are still given in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and 'cleric' is the normal title given to seminarians and those with minor orders.

The term "clerk" derives from "cleric," since in medieval times the clergy were one of the few groups who could read, and therefore were often employed to do bookkeeping and similar work. The term "clerical work" continues to this day to refer to such functions.


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  • Cleric — • A person who has been legitimately received into the ranks of the clergy Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Cleric     Cleric     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • cleric — CLÉRIC, clerici, s.m. Membru al clerului. – Din lat. clericus. Trimis de ibogdank, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  Cleric ≠ laic, mirean Trimis de siveco, 03.08.2004. Sursa: Antonime  CLÉRIC s. (bis.) (înv.) duhovnic. (clericul este membru al… …   Dicționar Român

  • Cleric — Cler ic, n. [AS., fr. L. clericus. See {Clerk}.] A clerk, a clergyman. [R.] Bp. Horsley. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cleric — Cler ic, a. Same as {Clerical}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cleric — n. A member of the clergy. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. 2008 …   Law dictionary

  • cleric — (n.) 1620s, from L.L. clericus clergyman, priest (4c.), lit. belonging to the clerus; from Eccles. Gk. klerikos, belonging to the clergy, originally pertaining to an inheritance, but in Christian use pertaining to the ecclesiastical order, from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cleric — ► NOUN ▪ a priest or religious leader. ORIGIN Latin clericus, from Greek kl ros lot, heritage (with reference to Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1) …   English terms dictionary

  • cleric — [kler′ik] n. [LL(Ec) clericus: see CLERK] a member of the clergy adj. relating to the clergy or one of its members …   English World dictionary

  • cleric — [[t]kle̱rɪk[/t]] clerics N COUNT A cleric is a member of the clergy. His grandfather was a Muslim cleric …   English dictionary

  • cleric — UK [ˈklerɪk] / US noun [countable] Word forms cleric : singular cleric plural clerics formal 1) a leader of any religion Muslim clerics 2) old fashioned a member of the clergy …   English dictionary

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