apos·​tle | \ ə-ˈpä-səl How to pronounce apostle (audio) \

Definition of apostle

1 : one sent on a mission: such as
a : one of an authoritative New Testament group sent out to preach the gospel and made up especially of Christ's 12 original disciples and Paul
b : the first prominent Christian missionary to a region or group St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany
2a : a person who initiates a great moral reform or who first advocates an important belief or system
b : an ardent supporter : adherent apostles of high technology
3 : the highest ecclesiastical official in some church organizations
4 : one of a Mormon administrative council of 12 men

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Other Words from apostle

apostleship \ -​ˌship How to pronounce apostleship (audio) \ noun

Examples of apostle in a Sentence

a fervent apostle of universal health care

Recent Examples on the Web

Art Bell, an apostle of the paranormal whose disembodied voice drew millions to his late-night radio soapbox beamed from the Mojave Desert, died on April 13 at his home in Pahrump, Nev. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Art Bell, Radio Host Who Tuned In to the Dark Side, Dies at 72," 17 Apr. 2018 When an apostle dies, a replacement is selected by the president. Matthew Bowman, Washington Post, "The Mormon Church has appointed its next president. Here’s what to expect.," 16 Jan. 2018 Among more recent apostles of this holistic view is the writer Wendell Berry, whose experiences on his Kentucky farm turned him decades ago into an insightful critic of US agricultural practices. BostonGlobe.com, "Biographies highlight some key figures in environmentalism," 27 Apr. 2018 The texts are believed to have been written by early Christians, including some of the apostles, but they are not included in the New Testament. Alexandra Wolfe, WSJ, "In New Book, Religion Scholar Elaine Pagels Tells Her Own Story," 26 Oct. 2018 Church doctrine requires an all-male priesthood, on the grounds that Jesus’ apostles were male. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Pressure building on Vatican to give women vote at synod," 15 Oct. 2018 The red-haired entrepreneur, an apostle of Ayn Rand, founded Elan Corp., which developed technology used in nicotine skin patches used to wean people from cigarettes. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Don Panoz Hopped From Pharmaceuticals to Wine, Resorts and Race Cars," 28 Sep. 2018 The Holy See insisted on the pope’s right to name bishops to preserve the apostolic succession that dates to Jesus’ original apostles. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Pope acknowledges China bishop deal will cause suffering," 25 Sep. 2018 In the run-up to the war, Ruffin became a sort of reactionary Zelig, stumping the South as an apostle of secession, turning up at John Brown’s hanging, firing the first shot against Fort Sumter, marching into combat at the First Battle of Bull Run. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘Looming Civil War’ Review: Anticipating the Apocalypse," 2 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apostle.' 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 apostle

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

History and Etymology for apostle

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Old English; Anglo-French apostle & Old English apostol, both from Late Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, from apostellein to send away, from apo- + stellein to send

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Statistics for apostle

Last Updated

8 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for apostle

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

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More Definitions for apostle



English Language Learners Definition of apostle

: any one of the 12 men chosen by Jesus Christ to spread the Christian religion
: someone who believes in or supports an idea, cause, etc.


apos·​tle | \ ə-ˈpä-səl How to pronounce apostle (audio) \

Kids Definition of apostle

: one of the twelve close followers of Jesus

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