From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, the conditioning of mind and body in favor of the spirit. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions. Although ascetics existed in various religions prior to Christianity, the term “monk” is of Christian invention. The female equivalent is a nun. Famous monks include Saint Anthony and Ambrosio, the fictional monk of The Monk.
The term monk comes from the Greek monachos (μοναχός), commonly translated as solitary, one living alone. In the Greek language, the term can apply to men or women, but in English, it usually applies only to men, while nun is more commonly used to refer to female monastics.