mid-15c., "belonging to or characteristic of bishops," from Middle French épiscopal (14c.), from Late Latin episcopalis, from Latin episcopus "an overseer" (see bishop). Reference to a church governed by bishops is 1752. With a capital E-, the ordinary designation of the Anglican church in the U.S. and Scotland, so called because its bishops are superior to other clergy. Chambers' "Cyclopaedia" (1751) has episcopicide "the murdering of a bishop."