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Although monastery in English often refers to a cloister of Christian monks, the term encompasses communities of either monks or nuns, who may live in community (cenobites) or alone (hermits), and in the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions as well as the Christian.
In Christianity, a monastery or nunnery is technically a community of monastics, whereas a convent is a community of mendicants (friary specifying a male community specifically), and a canonry a community of canons regular. The terms abbey and priory can be applied to both monasteries and canonries and distinguish those headed by an abbot from the lesser dependent houses headed by a prior. Other communities, depending on their organization and particular religious tradition, may be called cenobiums, hermitages, lavras, or sketes among other terms.
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