early 14c. (c. 1300 as a surname), sextein, sextyn, "under-officer in charge of the buildings and sacred objects of a religious house or church," from Old French segrestien, which is worn down from Medieval Latin secristanus, a variant of sacristanus (see sacristan). The sense of "custodian and janitor of a church" had emerged by 1580s. He also often prepared graves and attended at funerals. Related: Sexonry; sexonship. Fem. forms sextress, sextrice are recorded 15c., but the usual form is sextoness (early 15c.).
updated on July 11, 2022