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Alternative meanings in Monk (disambiguation)

A monk is a male religious ascetic. The word comes from the Greek monachos (μοναχός), commonly translated as a solitary person. It should be noted, however, that monachos is a word that had to be forged especially to name the then new phenomenon of men, living solitarily in the Egyptian desert. The phenomemon came to an abrupt rise in the 3rd century AD, when thousands of Egyptian men set out to the deserts of Nitria, southwest of the city of Alexandria, in order to imitate the life of St. Anthony, the first Christian monk.

Monks often live in a monastery. A monk who lives alone, away from society and sometimes also from all other monks, is called a hermit.

The female equivalent of a monk is called a nun, though the duties of a nun usually lie in the areas of religious education, nursing or charitable service. Therefore, the word nunk has been coined by Catholic theologian Raimundo Panikkar to refer to a female renunciate leading the contemplative life of a monk.

Monks in popular fiction and video games are often represented (or stereotyped) as martial artists. While there have been militant monastic orders at various points in history (Buddhist monks of the Shaolin temple are a well-known example), these are the exception and not the norm.

See also: