Meaning and Origin of: Priest

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First name origins & meanings:

  • Old English : Dweller at the church; priest's settlement

Last name origin & meaning:

  • English (mainly West Midlands) : from Middle English pr(i)est ‘minister of the Church’ (Old English prēost, from Latin presbyter, Greek presbyteros ‘elder’, ‘counselor’, comparative of presbys ‘old man’), used as a nickname, either for someone with a pious manner or possibly for someone who had played the part of a priest in a pageant. It may also have been an occupational name for someone in the service of a priest, and occasionally it may have been used to denote someone suspected of being the son of a priest.
  • A John Priest is recorded as being in Woburn, MA, as early as 1675. The Mayflower Pilgrim Digory Priest of Holland died the first winter at Plymouth in 1620, leaving behind a widow who remarried and two daughters, who did not pass on the family name.