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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]


The word laity means "common people" and comes from the Greek λαϊκός (laikos), meaning "of the people".[citation needed]

Synonyms for layperson include: parishioner, believer, dilettante, follower, member, neophyte, novice, outsider, proselyte, recruit, secular, laic, layman, nonprofessional.[2]

Religious 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 many Catholic dioceses, due in part to the lack of ordained clergy, lay ecclesial ministers serve parishes and in the diocese as pastoral leaders, sometimes as de facto pastor in the absence of a qualified priest. Such ministers are not ordained, but often have education, formation, and authorization equitable to that of the clergy.

Everyday context[edit]

The phrase "layman's terms"[3] is often used to refer to terms that apply to the everyday person, as can the term "layman" or "layperson" itself.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "lay person — definition of lay person by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Layperson synonyms, Layperson antonyms". Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Autism & Asperger's Syndrome in Layman's Terms. Your Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pdd-Nos and Other Autism Spectrum Disorders. Cranendonck Coaching. ISBN 9789789079391. 
  4. ^ Baum, Caroline (8 September 2011). "A Layman's Guide to the President's Jobs Speech: Caroline Baum". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 April 2015.