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

Other Words from apostle

apostleship \ ə-​ˈpä-​səl-​ˌship How to pronounce apostle (audio) \ noun

Examples of apostle in a Sentence

a fervent apostle of universal health care
Recent Examples on the Web In Paul’s letter to Philemon, the apostle even commands a runaway slave to return to his master. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 This traditional name owes its popularity in part to two New Testament figures: John the Baptist and the apostle John. Martha Sorren, Woman's Day, 11 July 2022 Hunched over, incredulous, the apostle extends his hand as Christ pulls back his robe, revealing a lance wound left by a Roman soldier. Thomas Curwenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 Even so, the apostle pointed to a recent Salt Lake Tribune story that separated the fact from the fiction in the show. The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 May 2022 As an apostle of the dangers of disinformation, Mr. Obama might be an imperfect messenger. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Also: Church faces tithing scrutiny in Australia and an apostle shares Ramadan message. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 Saul Griffith is perhaps the world’s leading apostle of electrification. The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2022 On Thursday at dawn, Christofferson, the first Latter-day Saint apostle to tour West Africa in two years, offered a prayer at an ocean overlook to formally dedicate Gambia. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of apostle

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

History and Etymology for apostle

Middle English apostel, apostle, postel, in part going back to Old English apostol, in part borrowed from Anglo-French apostle, apostoile, appostre, both borrowed from Late Latin apostolus "ambassador, Apostle (of the New Testament)," borrowed from Greek apóstolos "messenger, envoy, (Septuagint) messenger from God, (New Testament) Apostle," noun derivative of apostéllein "to send off or away, dispatch," from apo- apo- + stéllein "to set in order, equip, prepare for a journey, send," going back to Indo-European *stel- "put up, prepare," whence also Old Church Slavic posteljǫ, postĭlati "to spread out," Albanian shtiell "wind up, reel up, collect" (from *stel-n-) and perhaps Old Prussian stallīt "to stand," Armenian stełcanem, (aorist) stełci "prepare, create" (with -c- of uncertain origin)

Note: Along with Attic-Ionic stéllein, Greek forms in Lesbian dialect and forms attested by the grammarian Hesychius that appear to be Aeolic show a variant spel-/spol-. This has led to the conjecture of a distinct root *skwel- "set in order" alongside *stel- "send"; however, the evidence for *skwel- outside Greek is exiguous. Germanic *stal(l)jan- "to fix, set, place" (whence Old English stellan, Old Saxon stellian, Old High German stellen) could be an outcome of *stel-, though it is usually taken as denominal from *stalla- "stand, stall, stable" (see stall entry 1).

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

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a posteriori


apostle bird

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Last Updated

25 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apostle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apostle. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for apostle


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

Kids Definition of apostle

: one of the twelve close followers of Jesus

More from Merriam-Webster on apostle

Nglish: Translation of apostle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apostle for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about apostle


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