Share this entry

clerical Line breaks: cler|ic¦al
Pronunciation: /ˈklɛrɪk(ə)l/

Definition of clerical in English:


1Concerned with or relating to work in an office, especially routine documentation and administrative tasks: a clerical assistant clerical duties
More example sentences
  • Under the reforms, support assistants took over 24 clerical and routine tasks from teachers when the new term began last week.
  • They also refuse to carry out clerical, administrative and porter duties.
  • The work tasks varied from foundry work and heavy engineering to precision engineering and clerical and administrative work.
2Relating to the clergy: he was still attired in his clerical outfit
More example sentences
  • As many have observed, clerical and especially episcopal accountability is a complex matter.
  • This shift is most striking in the more clerical churches, the Anglican and Roman Catholic.
  • There is a huge difference between clerical reform of the church and lay renewal of the church.
holy, divine
archaic vicarial
rare sacerdotal, hieratic, rectorial, presbyteral


Late 15th century (in sense 2): from ecclesiastical Latin clericalis, from clericus 'clergyman' (see cleric).



Pronunciation: /ˈklɛrɪk(ə)ˌlɪz(ə)m/
sense 2.
Example sentences
  • The revolutionaries of 1789 fought in the name of secularism against the clericalism of feudal society, and enacted a firm separation of church and state.
  • In the past, as a reaction to clericalism, we have sometimes expected our priests to be ‘one of the guys,’ and perhaps this is where we have erred.
  • It is simply clericalism to suggest that religious leaders and public intellectuals ‘own’ the just war tradition in a singular way.


Pronunciation: /ˈklɛrɪk(ə)lɪst/
sense 2.
Example sentences
  • As a young adult, his activities led to his being pursued by clericalists and monarchists alike, and he had to take refuge outside France.
  • As this work goes forward, it will be essential to set aside the clericalist mentality that raises obstacles to clear thinking.
  • The clericalist career pattern of ‘promotion’ to a larger and more prominent diocese or archdiocese should be abandoned.


Example sentences
  • They doggedly believe that EC should just clerically run the elections which must be ordered by them, for their benefit, at their convenience.
  • They are laying the pillars of a new, clerically protected democratic order.
  • This new government, however, managed to alienate the native population by seizing clerically held lands, closing religious schools, and abolishing shariat courts.

Words that rhyme with clerical

chimerical, hemispherical, hysterical, numerical, spherical

Definition of clerical in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhɔːti
arrogantly superior and disdainful