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Anchorite, Anchoress. (Gk., anachōreō, ‘withdraw’). One who withdraws from the world in order to offer prayer and mortification, frequently understood in sacrificial terms. Anchorites are precursors of the development of monasticism, and are related to the hermits who are attached to monastic orders (e.g. among Camaldolese or Carthusians). The term became more strictly applied to those who live in a cell (restricted dwelling-place). In the later M. Ages, such cells were sometimes attached to parish churches. Julian of Norwich is (thought to be) a notable example.
anchorite, anchoret religious recluse occupying a cell. XV. — medL. an(a)chorīta, -rēta — ecclGr. anakhōrētḗs, f. anakhōreín retire, retreat, f. aná back, ANA- + khṓrā, khôros space, place. Superseded earlier †anchor (OE. — OIr. anchara, shortened — medL. anachorēta), whence anchoress, ancress XIV. anchor-hold (see HOLD2) anchorite's cell XVII.
an·cho·rite / ˈangkəˌrīt/ • n. hist. a religious recluse. DERIVATIVES: an·cho·rit·ic / ˌangkəˈritik/ adj.