from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The priest of a parish in the Church of England who receives a stipend or salary but does not receive the tithes of a parish.
  • n. A cleric in charge of a chapel in the Episcopal Church of the United States.
  • n. A cleric acting in the place of a rector or bishop in the Anglican Communion generally.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A priest who acts for or represents another, often higher-ranking member of the clergy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In the Church of England, the priest of a parish, receiving a salary or stipend but not tithes.
  • n. In the Roman Catholic and some other churches, a cleric acting as local representative of a higher ranking member of the clergy.
  • n. A person acting on behalf of, or is representing another person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One deputed or authorized to perform the functions of another; a substitute in office; a deputy.
  • n. The incumbent of an appropriated benefice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person deputed or authorized to perform the functions of another; a substitute in office: as, the Pope claims to be vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.
  • n. In English ecclesiastical law, the priest of a parish the tithes of which belong to a chapter or religious house, or to a layman, and who receives only the smaller tithes or a salary.
  • n. In the Roman Catholic Church, an ecclesiastic assisting a bishop and exercising jurisdiction in his name.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Episcopal Church) a clergyman in charge of a chapel
  • n. (Church of England) a clergyman appointed to act as priest of a parish
  • n. a Roman Catholic priest who acts for another higher-ranking clergyman


Middle English, from Old French vicaire, from Latin vicārius, vicarious, a substitute, from vicis, genitive of *vix, change; see weik-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin vicārius "vicarious, substitute" (Wiktionary)



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  • Hilary went to the Catholic Church because she wanted information
    The vicar, or whatever, took her to one side and gave her confirmation
    Saint Theresa's calling her, the church up on the hill is looking lovely
    But it doesn't interest, the only things she wants to know is how and why and when and where to go
    How and why and when and where to follow.

    (If you're feeling sinister, by Belle and Sebastian)

    September 10, 2008