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Title: Layperson  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Redirects for discussion/Log/2015 February 15, Papal chamberlain, Lay, Lay reader, Lie-to-children
Collection: Knowledge
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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 1
  • Professional context 2
  • Everyday context 3
  • Etymology 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Clerical context

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, the parish priest is unable to conduct the mass at all of the church locations of the parish. As a result prayer services are led by a layperson during the absence of the priest. Laypersons are also involved in running the parishes.

Professional context

A layperson lacks professional qualifications in a particular field, but acquires 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 are, however, a substantial number of amateur stargazers, who are laypersons in the field of astronomy. Many such laypersons do make discoveries, which can be the subject of much scientific attention, or receive substantial awards recognising the scientific value of their contributions. See, e.g., amateur astronomer and citizen scientist.

Everyday context

The phrase "layman's terms"[2] is often used to refer to terms that apply to the everyday person, as can the term "layman" or "layperson" itself.[3]

Synonyms for layperson include: parishioner, believer, dilettante, follower, member, neophyte, novice, outsider, proselyte, recruit, secular, laic, layman, nonprofessional.[4]


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

See also


  1. ^ "lay person — definition of lay person by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ 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.  
  3. ^ Baum, Caroline (8 September 2011). "A Layman’s Guide to the President's Jobs Speech: Caroline Baum". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Layperson synonyms, Layperson antonyms". Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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