Cler"gy (?), n. [OE. clergie, clergi, clerge, OF. clergie, F. clergie (fr. clerc clerc, fr. L. clericus priest) confused with OF. clergi'e, F. clerg'e, fr. LL. clericatus office of priest, monastic life, fr. L. clericus priest, LL. scholar, clerc. Both the Old French words meant clergy, in sense 1, the former having also sense 2. See Clerk.]
The body of men set apart, by due ordination, to the service of God, in the Christian church, in distinction from the laity; in England, usually restricted to the ministers of the Established Church.
Learning; also, a learned profession.
Sophictry . . . rhetoric, and other cleargy.
Guy of Warwick.
Put their second sons to learn some clergy.
State Papers (1515).
The privilege or benefit of clergy.
If convicted of a clergyable felony, he is entitled equally to his clergy after as before conviction.
Benefit of clergy Eng.,Law, the exemption of the persons of clergymen from criminal process before a secular judge -- a privilege which was extended to all who could read, such persons being, in the eye of the law, clerici, or clerks. This privilege was abridged and modified by various statutes, and finally abolished in the reign of George IV. (1827). -- Regular clergy, Secular clergy See Regular, n., and Secular, a.
© Webster 1913.