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The body of all people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church. Recorded from Middle English, the word comes via Old French, based on ecclesiastical Latin clericus ‘clergyman’, from Greek klērikos ‘belonging to the Christian clergy’, from klēros ‘lot, heritage’ (Acts 1:26, ‘And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias’, in the account of the choosing of a twelfth apostle to replace Judas).

See also benefit of clergy.

Subjects: Literature

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