An adjective used in formally addressing a member of the clergy. It is from the Latin reverendus, "worthy of reverence." It is intended to be descriptive. The term is incorrectly used as a noun title (like bishop or sister) to refer to a member of the clergy. For example, it is appropriate to say "the bishops are at the meeting," but it is not appropriate to say "the reverends are at the meeting." It is applied without further qualification to priests and deacons in the Episcopal Church and to clergy in other denominations. It is also used by abbesses, prioresses, and other nuns with the title "Mother." Hierarchical churches (such as the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church) further modify the term to indicate varying degrees of respect that are due. "The Very Reverend" indicates a dean of a deanery, a seminary, or a cathedral. "The Right Reverend" indicates a bishop, an abbot or abbess, or other prelate. "The Most Reverend" indicates an archbishop or primate.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.