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A layperson (also layman or laywoman) is defined as either a non-ordained member of a church, or a person who is not qualified in a given profession and/or does not have specific knowledge of a certain subject.[1]

Clerical context[edit]

Main article: Laity

In the Catholic and the Anglican churches, anyone who is not ordained as a deacon, priest, or bishop is referred to as a layman or a laywoman. In some Catholic parishes, due to the lack of ordained priests in the diocese, and the number of followers in the parish - the parish priest separately reads the mass in every church of the parish, while prayer services are led by a layperson during the absence of the priest. Laypersons are also involved in running the parishes.

Professional context[edit]

A layperson lacks professional qualifications in a particular field, but may have acquired knowledge and/or expertise in a field that partly overlaps that of the professionals, allowing the layperson to make useful contributions to the overall outcome (e.g. a person who is not a medical doctor may assist in the medical care of a patient).

For instance, an astronomer is usually skilled in physics, geology, or engineering. There is, however, a substantial number[citation needed] of amateur stargazers, who are laypersons in the field of astronomy. Many such laypersons have made discoveries[clarification needed], which have been subject of much scientific attention[clarification needed], or have received substantial awards[clarification needed][citation needed] recognising the scientific value of their contributions[clarification needed].


Laity means "common people"; the word comes from the Greek λαϊκός (laikos), meaning "of the people".

See also[edit]