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Priest vs. Reverend: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
A priest is an ordained religious leader specific to certain Christian denominations, while "Reverend" is a title of respect for many ordained clergy.

Key Differences

A priest is a specific religious role within certain Christian denominations, most notably within the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions. Their duties encompass administering sacraments, conducting worship services, and offering spiritual guidance to their congregation. On the contrary, "Reverend" is not a distinct religious office but rather a title. It is similar to Mr., Mrs., or Dr., serving as an honorific for those who are ordained across different Christian denominations.
The role of a priest is clearly defined by the specific doctrines and practices of their religious tradition. For example, in the Catholic Church, a priest is tasked with administering seven sacraments, including the Eucharist and confession. Reverend, meanwhile, is a broad term used to address or refer to various clergy members, whether they are priests, pastors, or ministers. It is a way of acknowledging their spiritual and religious role without specifying their exact function or denomination.
Another distinction between priest and Reverend is the scope of their application. While "priest" is mainly associated with specific Christian groups, the title "Reverend" can be used across a wider range of Christian denominations. For instance, a Baptist minister might be addressed as Reverend but would not typically be referred to as a priest.
It's essential to recognize that the use of these terms can be influenced by cultural and regional practices. In some settings, the title "Reverend" might be used more restrictively, while in others, it might have a broader application. Regardless, when referring to a priest, it's always pertinent to understand the specific traditions and responsibilities associated with their role, whereas Reverend is a more generalized form of address for those who have been ordained.

Comparison Chart


Specific religious role
Title or honorific

Associated With

Certain Christian denominations (e.g., Catholic, Anglican)
Various Christian denominations


Administering sacraments, spiritual guidance
Varies based on the specific role of the clergy member

Used as a

Noun (e.g., "a priest")
Prefix (e.g., "Reverend John")


Specific to certain denominations
Broadly used across Christianity

Priest and Reverend Definitions


An ordained religious leader in certain Christian denominations.
The priest delivered a moving sermon on Sunday.


A title of respect for a member of the clergy.
Reverend Smith has been with our church for ten years.


An elder or leader in some non-Christian religious traditions.
In ancient cultures, the priest would offer sacrifices to the gods.


A formal prefix for ministers, pastors, or priests.
Reverend Green is the new pastor at the downtown church.


One who celebrates the Eucharist in some Christian churches.
The priest prepared the altar for communion.


A title indicating one's ordination and religious role.
Reverend Taylor conducted the wedding ceremony.


One authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion.
The priest administered the last rites to the dying man.


Deserving reverence.


A mediator between God and mankind in some religions.
The community sought guidance from the priest during difficult times.


Relating to or characteristic of the clergy; clerical.


In many Christian churches, a member of the second grade of clergy ranking below a bishop but above a deacon and having authority to administer the sacraments.


Reverend Abbr. Rev. Used as a title and form of address for certain clerics in many Christian churches. In formal usage, preceded by the
The Reverend Jane Doe.
Reverend John Jones.


A person having the authority to perform and administer religious rites.


A cleric or minister. Used with the.


To ordain or admit to the priesthood.


Worthy of reverence or respect


A religious clergyman (clergywoman, clergyperson) who is trained to perform services or sacrifices at a church or temple
The priest at the Catholic church heard his confession.
The Shinto priest burnt incense for his ancestors.
The Israelite priests were descended from Moses' brother Aaron.




A blunt tool, used for quickly stunning and killing fish


(informal) A member of the Christian clergy; a minister.


(Mormonism) the highest office in the Aaronic priesthood


Worthy of reverence; entitled to respect mingled with fear and affection; venerable.
A reverend sire among them came.
They must give good example and reverend deportment in the face of their children.


(transitive) To ordain as a priest.


A member of the clergy and a spiritual leader of the Christian Church


A presbyter elder; a minister


A title of respect for a clergyman


One who officiates at the altar, or performs the rites of sacrifice; one who acts as a mediator between men and the divinity or the gods in any form of religion; as, Buddhist priests.
Then the priest of Jupiter . . . brought oxen and garlands . . . and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Every priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.


Worthy of adoration or reverence


To ordain as priest.


An honorific for ordained individuals across Christian denominations.
Reverend Jones will be leading the prayer service tonight.


A clergyman in Christian churches who has the authority to perform or administer various religious rites; one of the Holy Orders


A general term of address for someone in religious leadership.
Reverend Lee provided counseling to the grieving family.


A spiritual leader in a non-Christian religion


Who can be addressed as Reverend?

Ordained members of the clergy across various Christian denominations.

Can a woman be a priest?

It depends on the denomination; some allow female priests, while others do not.

What is the main role of a priest?

Administering sacraments and offering spiritual guidance.

Is Reverend a job title?

It's more of an honorific or title of respect than a job title.

Do all priests wear collars?

Most Catholic and Anglican priests do, but practices vary by denomination.

Is every Reverend a priest?

No, not every Reverend is a priest, as the title can apply to various clergy members.

Is a pastor the same as a Reverend?

"Pastor" denotes a role, while "Reverend" is an honorific title.

Does Reverend mean "holy"?

It's a title of respect, not a direct synonym for "holy."

Who can ordain a priest?

Typically a bishop within the respective denomination.

Can a priest be married?

In some Christian denominations, yes; in Roman Catholicism, typically no.

Are all priests Catholic?

No, there are priests in Anglican, Orthodox, and other traditions.

Is Reverend used outside of Christianity?

Rarely; it's predominantly a Christian term.

Is the Pope addressed as Reverend?

No, he's addressed as "Your Holiness."

How is Reverend abbreviated?

Often as "Rev."

Is a priest higher than a Reverend?

"Priest" is a specific role, while "Reverend" is a title; they aren't directly comparable in hierarchy.

Are priests and ministers the same?

No, but both are roles within Christian denominations.

Can you call a priest Reverend?

Yes, it's appropriate, especially in Anglican traditions.

How does one become a priest?

Through seminary training and ordination within a specific denomination.

What's the feminine of Reverend?

Reverend itself is gender-neutral.

Can a Reverend hear confessions?

Only if they are an ordained priest in a tradition that practices confession.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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