"religious house under the governance of a prior," next in dignity below an abbey, late 13c., priorie, from Anglo-French priorie (mid-13c.), from Medieval Latin prioria "monastery governed by a prior; office of a prior," from Latin prior (see prior (n.)). Middle English had priorwike for "position or office of a prior" (early 13c.); priority (early 15c.) also was used in this sense, as were priorhede (early 15c.), priorate (c. 1400).