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

Layperson in the clerical context[edit]

In the (Roman) catholic church and in the Anglican Church anybody who is not ordained as a deacon, priest, bishop is referred to as a layman or laywoman. In some catholic parishes - due to the lack of ordained priests in the diocese and the number of believers in the parish - the parishpriest reads mass in every churche of the parish one by one, while prayer services are held lead by a layperson in the intermediate period in the absence of the priest. Laypersons are also involved in the running of the parishes.
For more information see laity.

Layperson in professional context[edit]

A lay person lacks professional qualifications (like not being a medical doctor) in a particular field, but could have acquired expert knowledge and/or expertise in a field partly overlapping that of the professional, allowing the layperson to make worthwhile contributions to the overall result (ie. the medical care of a patient).

Example an astronomer is a professional scientific researcher, often a physicist, a geologist or who has a qualification in engineering. There is quite a substantial number amateur stargazers, laypersons in the field of Astronomy, many of whom have made discoveries that have been subject of scientific publications or have gotten substantial awards recognising the scientific value of their contributions.


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

See also[edit]