AskDefine | Define reverend

Dictionary Definition

reverend adj : worthy of adoration or reverence [syn: revered, reverenced, sublime, venerated]


1 a member of the clergy and a spiritual leader of the Christian Church [syn: clergyman, man of the cloth] [ant: layman]
2 a title of respect for a clergyman

User Contributed Dictionary

see Reverend



From Latin future passive participle reverendus, from deponent verb revereri, honor or revere.



  1. worthy of reverence or respect


  1. a member of the Christian clergy


Extensive Definition

portal Christianity The term the Reverend is used as an honorary prefix to the names of many Christian clergy and ministers. The prefix is correctly called a style rather than a title or form of address. It is sometimes also used by leaders in non-Christian religions such as Buddhism.


In traditional English usage it is considered incorrect to drop the word "the" before "Reverend". When used within a sentence "the" begins with a lower-case letter. The common abbreviations for "the Reverend" are "the Rev", "the Revd" and "the Rev'd".
Although there is no distinct plural form it is not uncommon to find "the Reverends" used. This is grammatically incorrect since, in English, adjectives do not decline according to number. When a number of clergy are referred to they should be styled individually, e.g. "The Reverend John Smith and the Reverend Hank Brown". In a list of clergy, however, "the Revv" is sometimes put before the list of names.
"The Reverend" is traditionally used with Christian names (or initials) and surname, such as "The Reverend John Smith" or "The Reverend J.F. Smith". Use of the prefix with the surname alone ("The Reverend Smith") is considered a solecism in traditional usage (although "The Reverend Father Smith" or "The Reverend Mr Smith" are correct though somewhat old-fashioned uses). So also with the use of the prefix as a form of address: in some countries Anglican priests are often addressed by the title of their office, such as "Vicar", "Rector" or "Archdeacon". They may also be addressed simply as "Mr Smith". In many Protestant churches, especially in the United States, ordained ministers are often addressed as "Pastor" (as in "Pastor John" or "Pastor Smith"). Some titles, such as Canon, may be used together with the Christian name or both names, for example, "Canon John" or "Canon John Smith". Orthodox and Roman Catholic priests are usually addressed as "Father", whether as "Father John" or "Father Smith". This latter practice has become more common in the Anglican Churches since the Oxford Movement but, naturally, the appellation does not apply to women clergy. Some female clergy in the Anglican Communion use and prefer the style "Reverend Mother" or "Mother" and others prefer being called by their first names.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, it has been increasingly common to find clergy referred to as "Reverend" (without "the" preceding "Reverend") and / or addressed, for example, as "Reverend Smith". This is more common among more recently established churches.


"The Reverend" may be modified to reflect ecclesiastical standing and rank. Modifications vary across Christian traditions. Some examples are:

Anglican Churches

  • Deacons are styled either as "the Reverend", "the Reverend Deacon", or "the Reverend Mr" (males), or "the Reverend Mrs, Ms or Miss" (females).
  • Priests are usually styled either as "the Reverend", "the Reverend Father" or "the Reverend Mother" (even if not a religious). Less frequently, male priests are styled as "the Reverend Mr" and females as "the Reverend Mrs, Ms or Miss".
  • Heads of some women's religious orders are styled as "the Reverend Mother" (even if not ordained).
  • Canons are often styled as "the Reverend Canon".
  • Deans are styled as "the Very Reverend".
  • Archdeacons are usually styled as "the Venerable" ("the Ven").
  • Abbesses, abbots and bishops are styled as "the Right Reverend".
  • Archbishops and primates are styled as "the Most Reverend".

Catholic Churches

  • A deacon: "The Reverend Mister" (while an old-fashioned title once used for a priest, this title is frequently used in the U.S. for transitional deacons, and permanent deacons depending upon individual diocesan usage)
  • Secular Priests: "The Reverend"
  • Priests who are members of mendicant or monastic orders: "The Reverend Father"
  • Priests with various grades of jurisdiction above pastor (vicars general, judicial vicars, ecclesiastical judges, episcopal vicars, provincials of religious orders of priests, priors of monasteries, deans, for instance): "The Very Reverend"
  • Abbots of monasteries: "The Right Reverend"
  • Abbesses of convents: "The Mother Superior", with their convent's name following, e.g. "The Mother Superior of the Poor Clares of Boston" in written form while being referred to simply as "Mother Superior" in speech.
  • Supernumeraries apostolic, Honorary prelates, and Chaplains of His Holiness: "The Reverend Monsignor"
  • Bishops and archbishops: "The Most Reverend" in the United States and Ireland. In Great Britain and some countries of the Commonwealth, bishops are styled "The Right Reverend" and archbishops are styled "The Most Reverend".
However, none of these are ever addressed as "Reverend" or "The Reverend" alone. Instead, deacons are addressed as "Deacon"; priests are addressed as "Father"; honorary prelates as "Monsignor"; bishops and archbishops as "Your Excellency" (or "Your Grace" for archbishops in the United Kingdom and some other countries).

Protestant Churches

In some countries, such as the United States, the term "Pastor" (such as "Pastor Smith" in more formal address or "Pastor John" in less formal) is often used rather than "the Reverend". "The Reverend", however, is still often used in more formal or official written communication.

Presbyterian Churches

The Moderators of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and United Church of Canada, when ordained clergy, are styled "the Right Reverend" during their year of service and "the Very Reverend" afterwards. Church ministers are styled "the Reverend". Moderators of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are styled simply "the Reverend". By tradition in the Church of Scotland, the ministers of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, (also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh), and Paisley Abbey, are styled "the Very Reverend".

Eastern Orthodox Churches

  • A deacon is referred to as "the Reverend Deacon" (or Hierodeacon, Archdeacon, Protodeacon, according to ecclesiastical elevation), while in spoken use the title "Father" is used (sometimes "Father Deacon").
  • A married priest is "the Reverend Father", a monastic priest is "the Reverend Hieromonk"; a protopresbyter is "the Very Reverend Father"; and an archimandrite is either "the Very Reverend Father" (Greek practice) or "the Right Reverend Father" (Russian practice). All are simply addressed as "Father".
  • Abbots and abbesses are styled "the Very Reverend Abbot / Abbess", and are addressed as "Father" and "Mother", respectively.
  • A bishop is referred to as "the Right Reverend Bishop" and addressed as "Your Grace" (or "Your Excellency").
  • An archbishop or metropolitan as "the Most Reverend Archbishop / Metropolitan" and addressed as "Your Eminence".
  • Heads of autocephalous and autonomous churches are styled differently, according to their rank and seniority.

Oxford University

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University is formally known as "The Reverend the Vice-Chancellor" even if he or she is not a member of the clergy.


Most Jewish ministers of religion have the title Rabbi, which denotes that they have received rabbinical ordination (semicha). It is, however, not essential to be a rabbi to practise as a Jewish 'minister of religion'. In particular, few cantors (chazzanim) are rabbis, but many are empowered to perform such functions as witnessing marriages. In this case they often use the style 'the Reverend'.

Theological controversy

Some Christians, particularly members of the Churches of Christ, but also some Baptist groups, reject using the term 'reverend' for people, instead maintaining that it should be reserved for God alone. The word "reverend" is used only once in any English translations of the Bible, and then only in such archaic versions as the KJV and ASV: [God] sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name. Some newer Bible translations deem other words, such as 'awesome,' to better communicate the meaning of the Hebrew word נוֹרָא into modern English.
Others assert that even the apostles refused to be revered and that they claimed they were only men. From this principle the Churches of Christ typically refer to their preachers as "ministers" or "evangelists" and some Baptists use the term "minister" or "pastor". 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
Some Christians also object to the use of "Father" as a form of address for Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican clergy and to the use of "Rabbi" (teacher) for Jewish religious leaders, citing Jesus' teaching in the gospel according to Matthew.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Notes and references

reverend in Czech: Reverend
reverend in German: Hochwürden

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

august, awe-inspiring, awesome, awful, churchman, cleric, clerk, creditable, divine, dreadful, ecclesiastic, esteemed, estimable, held in esteem, highly esteemed, highly regarded, highly reputed, highly respectable, honorable, honored, in favor, in good odor, in high favor, meritorious, minister, noble, patriarchal, preacher, prestigious, reputable, respectable, respected, revered, reverential, time-honored, venerable, venerated, well-thought-of, worshipful, worthy
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1