clerk

Definitions

Banking

  • noun a person who works in an office

Law

  • noun somebody who works in an office or does clerical work

Military

  • noun a serviceperson who carries out secretarial duties in a headquarters

Politics

  • noun an official who keeps records of a legislative or administrative body

Origin & History of “clerk”

Clerk and its relatives cleric and clergy owe their existence ultimately to a Biblical reference, in Deuteronomy xviii 2, to the Levites, members of an Israelite tribe whose men were assistants to the temple priests: ‘Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the lord is their inheritance’. Greek for ‘inheritance’ is klēros, and so it came about that matters relating to the Christian ministry were denoted in late Greek by the derived adjective klērikós. this passed into ecclesiastical Latin as clēricus, which was originally borrowed into late Old English as cleric or clerc, later reinforced by Old French clerc to give modern English clerk. Its present-day bureaucratic connotations, which emerged in the 16th century, go back to an earlier time when members of the clergy were virtually the only people who could read or write. However, religious associations have of course been preserved in cleric (17th c.), from ecclesiastical Latin clēricus, and clergy (13th c.), a blend of Old French clergie (a derivative of clerc) and clerge (from the ecclestiastical Latin derivative clēricātus). The compound clergyman is 16th century.
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