Page 79 of Fluent Forever's "Awesome Word List" for Japanese gives 僧侶 as the Japanese word for "priest", listed just after "教会" for "church". How suitable is it for "priest", if at all?

Doing a google image search for "僧侶" mainly gave Buddhists (though that could be because more Chinese-speakers and Japanese-speakers are Buddhists than Christians), the English language Wiktionary translates it as Buddhist monks, while jisho.org says "priest; monk​ - Buddhist term" (seemingly saying that both "priest" and "monk" are Buddhist terms). The Japanese language's disambiguation page for 僧侶 has mention of Christianity.


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僧侶 (僧) is sometimes used as a catch-all term for priests and monks of non-Asian religions. This is typically true for imaginary religions in fiction. For example priests/僧侶 in Dragon Quest franchise do not look like that of Buddhism at all.

僧侶 is rare for Christian clergies because Christianity has the set of better-known terms like 修道士.

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    FWIW, as a Christian, I have never seen 修道士 used anywhere. I'm seeing it translated as "monk" or "friar", which feel very antiquated.
    – istrasci
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:38
  • @istrasci I'm wondering if there's a better gender-neutral English term for "nun/sister". For example how do you call these people if "monk" is not the right word?
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 5:10

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