Man of the cloth

Man of the cloth is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom man of the cloth, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A man of the cloth is a clergyman, minister, priest, or other religious leader. The expression man of the cloth came into use in the early 1700s; previous to this time, the word cloth was used to mean the particular clothes worn by a profession and might have been considered a synonym for uniform. By the early 1700s, man of the cloth came to be used exclusively to refer to the clothing worn by a clergyman, minister, priest, or other religious leader. The plural form of man of the cloth is men of the cloth. The popularity of the term man of the cloth has fallen off slightly in recent years, most probably because of the rise of women clerics.


This would have been a distinguished record under any circumstance, but Archbishop Tutu did not become a man of the cloth for the sake of accolades. (Nigerian Tribune)

For a man of the cloth to be “saddened” by the coming to light of what really goes on under his watch distresses me greatly. (Los Angeles Times)

But a source said: “This is an extraordinary level of debt for an individual and not the sort of financial situation you would expect of a man of the cloth.” (Scottish Sun)

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