martyr

noun
mar·​tyr | \ ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio) \

Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

martyr

verb
martyred; martyring; martyrs

Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

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Other Words from martyr

Noun

martyrization \ ˌmär-​tə-​rə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce martyrization (audio) \ noun
martyrize \ ˈmär-​tə-​ˌrīz How to pronounce martyrize (audio) \ transitive verb

Examples of martyr in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun How a controversial rationalist blogger became a mascot and martyr in a struggle against the New York Times. Gideon Lewis-kraus, The New Yorker, "Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media," 9 July 2020 Cosby will never be looked at as a martyr to anyone besides another walking societal ill. Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "Bill Cosby Can't Save His Legacy," 1 July 2020 However, opposition lawmaker Khwaja Mohammed Asif slammed Khan for calling bin Laden a martyr, saying the al-Qaida chief had brought terrorism to Pakistan. Time, "Pakistan's Prime Minister Says U.S. 'Martyred' Osama bin Laden," 26 June 2020 However, opposition lawmaker Khwaja Mohammed Asif slammed Khan for calling bin Laden a martyr, saying the al-Qaida chief had brought terrorism to Pakistan. Washington Post, "Pakistan’s prime minister says US ‘martyred’ bin Laden," 26 June 2020 But Floyd didn’t think about being a martyr during the final moments of his life. Dallas News, "Despite Donald Trump’s stand, some leaders now support NFL players kneeling during national anthem," 15 June 2020 Chappelle also addresses conservative commentator Candace Owens’ video on Facebook about why George Floyd is not a martyr. Dessi Gomez, Los Angeles Times, "In a new special, Dave Chappelle says he trusts ‘the streets’ to speak, not celebs," 12 June 2020 While the real-life Joan died at 19, and has often been played in film by actors a lot older, here Dumont recasts Lise Leplat Prudhomme, now not yet 12, to play Joan the warrior and eventual martyr. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "‘Joan of Arc’ Review: The Saint Is Revisited in Song," 21 May 2020 This transformed Mikovits into a martyr for the cause in the eyes of many CFS sufferers, frustrated at having their disorder repeatedly dismissed and eager to latch onto a possible concrete biological cause. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Fired scientist back to peddling anti-vaxx COVID-19 conspiracy theories," 8 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "A Puerto Rican Fishing Road Trip for Silver Kings, Bigmouths, Mullet, and More," 27 May 2020 The name speaks to a cherished legend about 11,000 virgins, followers of St. Ursula, who arrived in town by boat in medieval times and were eventually martyred in Cologne. Dave Seminara, New York Times, "36 Hours in Basel," 20 Feb. 2020 The Catholic Church recognized at least three different saints with the same Roman name, all of whom were later martyred. cleveland, "The long history of Valentine’s Day told as a short story at The Normandy in Rocky River," 10 Feb. 2020 Start the story with Emiliano Zapata, the peasant leader from a village in the central state of Morelos, who was tricked into a military ambush and martyred in 1919. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Lasting Influence of Mexico’s Great Muralists," 24 Feb. 2020 The search launched Friday, Valentine's Day, a holiday that commemorates the day Saint Valentine was martyred. Ella Torres, ABC News, "The birthplace of Saint Valentine is looking for an American partner," 14 Feb. 2020 Commemorations culminated in Ashura, on the tenth of the month, when Hussein was martyred. The Economist, "Trapped in Iran," 28 Jan. 2020 Khan Mohammad another villager said that on the day of the incident there were around 100 to 110 worshippers in the mosque, of which more than 70 were martyred and more than 30 others were wounded. Rahim Faiez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Afghan village buries its dead after mosque bombing kills 66," 19 Oct. 2019 The Russian boy Pavlik Morozov, 13, was supposedly martyred as a Hero of the Soviet Revolution for turning in his parents to the Bolsheviks. Daniel Lee, National Review, "Greta Thunberg and Samantha Smith: Propaganda Poster Girls," 2 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of martyr

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for martyr

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for martyr

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for martyr

Last Updated

20 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for martyr

martyr

noun
How to pronounce martyr (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

martyr

verb

English Language Learners Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

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

martyr

noun
mar·​tyr | \ ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio) \

Kids Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who suffers greatly or dies rather than give up his or her religion or principles

martyr

verb
martyred; martyring

Kids Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put to death for refusing to give up a belief

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