- a member of the clergy in charge of a parish in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
- Roman Catholic Church. an ecclesiastic in charge of a college, religious house, or congregation.
- Anglican Church. a member of the clergy who has the charge of a parish with full possession of all its rights, tithes, etc.
- the head of certain universities, colleges, and schools.
- Church of England a clergyman in charge of a parish in which, as its incumbent, he would formerly have been entitled to the whole of the tithesCompare vicar
- RC Church a cleric in charge of a college, religious house, or congregation
- Episcopal Church Scottish Episcopal Church a clergyman in charge of a parish
- mainly British the head of certain schools or colleges
- (in Scotland) a high-ranking official in a university: now a public figure elected for three years by the students
late 14c. (early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), from Latin rector “ruler, governor, director, guide,” from rect-, past participle stem of regere “to rule, guide” (see regal). Used originally of Roman governors and God, by 18c. generally restricted to clergymen and college heads. Related: Rectorship.