Think fast — I’ll give you this pound if you can tell me what a vicar is. Well, you’ve remained silent so I’m assuming you don’t know. I’ll just keep my sterling, thank you very much.

“Vicar” is the British way to refer to priests in a given church community.

According to the Web site for St. Margarets Church in Colchester (, a Church of England parish in the past frequently owned adjoining land, known as “Glebe Land.” The income from this land paid the expenses of a minister who was in charge of that church community. A rector would receive the income for the land, but would often delegate a vicar to do the job for him.

The word “vicar” has the same root as the word vicarious, meaning deputized or delegated, according to the church’s Web site.

These days, all parish ministers are paid through a system set by the diocese, but the titles remain the same.

According to the church Web site, a rector, vicar or priest in charge all basically do the same job for their communities these days.

So there you have it. You’re one step closer to understanding Britain. But, you may be asking, why don’t they just call a vicar a priest or a pastor? Well, as the right-hand steering wheels, stubbly cockney accents and Indian food suggest, you’re not in America anymore. And a vicar is part of that non-American experience.

As the iconic American TV show “GI Joe” used to say, now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at:

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