martyr

1 of 2

noun

mar·​tyr ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio)
1
: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2
: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle
a martyr to the cause of freedom
3
: victim
especially : a great or constant sufferer
a martyr to asthma all his life A. J. Cronin
martyrization noun
martyrize transitive verb

martyr

2 of 2

verb

martyred; martyring; martyrs

transitive verb

1
: to put to death for adhering to a belief, faith, or profession
2
: to inflict agonizing pain on : torture

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Some women’s cheeks bore drawings of a red poppy, the symbol of a martyr in Iran. Time, 2 Oct. 2022 In fact, one of the greatest heroes of the North during the Civil War was (depending on your perspective) either a terrorist, an insurgent, a freedom fighter, a madman, a martyr, or the paragon of a righteous cause. Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 12 Dec. 2022 Though Lucia is considered a Christian martyr, there are also Norse traditions brought into the celebration after Norsemen converted to Christianity. Monica Cull, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2022 Gen-Xers and older millennials may have identified best with John, a rock-and-roll antihero and Cobain-esque martyr. Lane Brown, Vulture, 4 Nov. 2022 And Russia had made a martyr out of Mr. Bout over the past 14 years; freeing him would allow Mr. Putin to boast about finally bringing a patriot home. Peter Baker, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2022 And Russia had made a martyr out of Bout over the past 14 years; freeing him would allow Putin to boast about finally bringing a patriot home. Peter Baker, BostonGlobe.com, 9 Dec. 2022 Albie di Grasso’s room, for example, features an image of martyr Saint Sebastian, who was tied to a tree and riddled with arrows (notably, this didn’t kill him; he was rescued by Saint Irene of Rome. Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 9 Dec. 2022 Charlie’s purity renders him a kind of sainted figure, an angelic martyr of sorts. cleveland, 8 Dec. 2022
Verb
Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, cleveland, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Chicago Tribune, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 18 Aug. 2022 As for the food and cleanup, don’t martyr yourself. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 24 July 2022 Catanzara’s potential ouster as a Chicago police officer could also martyr him to supporters in the FOP who see him as an outspoken foe of the Lightfoot administration. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, 14 Nov. 2021 Ursula, legend holds, was a British princess martyred in Germany in the 4th century, along with as many as 11,000 of her holy companions. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, 27 May 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'martyr.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek martyr-, martys witness

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of martyr was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near martyr

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

martyr

1 of 2 noun
mar·​tyr ˈmärt-ər How to pronounce martyr (audio)
1
: a person who suffers death rather than give up his or her religion
2
: one who sacrifices life or something of great value for a principle or cause
3
: a person who suffers greatly

martyr

2 of 2 verb
1
: to put to death for refusing to give up a belief
2
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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