late 14c., "reader, a cleric in one of the minor orders appointed to read holy works to the people," from Late Latin lector "reader," agent noun from Latin legere "to read," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak (to 'pick out words')." Fem. forms were lectrice (1889, from French), lectress (1846). Related: Lectorship. Middle English also had lectory "a house for reading" (early 15c.).