noun \ˈmär-tər\

: a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.

: a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy

: a person who suffers greatly from something (such as an illness)

Full Definition of MARTYR

:  a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
:  a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle
:  victim; especially :  a great or constant sufferer <a martyr to asthma all his life — A. J. Cronin>
mar·tyr·i·za·tion \ˌmär-tə-rə-ˈzā-shən\ noun
mar·tyr·ize \ˈmär-tə-ˌrīz\ transitive verb

Origin of MARTYR

Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek martyr-, martys witness
First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Christian Religious Terms

Pentateuch, blasphemy, curate, doxology, eremite, iconoclasm, liturgy, orison, pneuma, reliquary

Rhymes with MARTYR



: to kill (someone) for refusing to give up a belief or cause

Full Definition of MARTYR

transitive verb
:  to put to death for adhering to a belief, faith, or profession
:  to inflict agonizing pain on :  torture

First Known Use of MARTYR

before 12th century

Rhymes with MARTYR


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Person who voluntarily suffers death rather than deny his or her religion. Readiness for martyrdom was a collective ideal in ancient Judaism, notably in the era of the Maccabees, and its importance has continued into modern times. Roman Catholicism sees the suffering of martyrs as a test of their faith. Many saints of the early church underwent martyrdom during the persecutions of the Roman emperors. Martyrs need not perform miracles to be canonized. In Islam, martyrs are thought to comprise two groups of the faithful: those killed in jihad and those killed unjustly. In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is regarded as a martyr because he voluntarily postpones enlightenment to alleviate the suffering of others.


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