Definition of presbytery in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprezbəˌterē/ Pronunciation: /ˈpresbəˌterē/

noun (plural presbyteries)

1 [treated as singular or plural] A body of church elders and ministers, especially (in Presbyterian churches) an administrative body (court) representing all the local congregations of a district.
Example sentences
  • To be added to the church's constitution, the ban must be ratified by a majority of the church's 173 presbyteries before the denomination meets in June.
  • The court held that the presbytery was not doing enough to enforce church law.
  • The proposed amendment was approved by a narrow margin at the denomination's General Assembly last June but needed to be ratified by a majority of the church's 173 presbyteries to become church law.
1.1A district represented by a presbytery.
Example sentences
  • The mission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta is to witness to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to connect and empower congregations in their local and global ministries.
  • The Irish Presbyterian Church, which is a founding member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, has over 560 congregations in 21 presbyteries throughout Ireland, with over 300,000 members.
  • There are 312,000 Presbyterians on the island (95 percent of whom are in Northern Ireland), grouped into 562 congregations and twenty-one presbyteries.
2The house of a Roman Catholic parish priest.
Example sentences
  • The parish is, in effect, being run from the presbytery but the only priest the people see is at Mass on a Sunday.
  • The invention of the mobile phone has freed priests from their presbyteries.
  • The woman in the case, now living in Britain, alleged the abuse against her by the priest took place at his presbytery.
3chiefly Architecture The eastern part of a church chancel beyond the choir; the sanctuary.
Example sentences
  • The climbers are working on top of the three-tiered presbytery and transept, which were built in the 13th century.
  • This part of the church is ruinous, but standing to full height are the central transepts, the third storey of which was added about 1225, and the choir and presbytery range east of that.
  • In the 1340s the church's presbytery, off which radiate six chapels, was rebuilt by the widow of Hugh le Despenser the Younger, who was executed for treason in 1326.


Late Middle English (sense 3): from Old French presbiterie, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek presbuterion, from presbuteros (see presbyter).

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Syllabification: pres·by·ter·y

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