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 \ 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 Yes, that’s when the popular apostle will turn 80 years old. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "This week in Mormon Land: Liberals leery at BYU; Wyoming’s ‘Black 14’ team up with church; Uchtdorf approaches big birthday," 5 Nov. 2020 Benson was the first apostle to serve in a presidential Cabinet. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Jana Riess: How did Latter-day Saints become so Republican?," 7 Oct. 2020 The faith’s first Asian American apostle said the couple would continue taking precautions — wearing masks, frequently washing their hands, and practicing social distancing. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "This week in Mormon Land: Church opposes Arizona marijuana measure; Utah bishopric rocks out; Black milestone is remembered.," 22 Oct. 2020 There was the tale of the time when Luther went to bathe in a stream and shape-shifted into an old man who might have been an apostle. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "‘We Were Bulletproof’: As Child Soldiers Grow Up, Legacy of War Lingers," 12 Oct. 2020 Gong was called as an apostle in 2018, the first Asian American to rise to that level of leadership in the 16.5 million-member global faith. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Trailblazing LDS apostle Gerrit Gong and his wife test positive for COVID-19," 6 Oct. 2020 The grinning Latter-day Saint apostle had the same wish — but the other way around. The Salt Lake Tribune, "LDS apostle Holland, Pentecostal official discuss their friendship and faith differences," 13 Sep. 2020 Saint Mary Harris, House of Bread apostle, 870-872-2196, or houseofbread0894@sbcglobal.net. Arkansas Online, "Pine Bluff Calendar of Events," 5 Sep. 2020 His sudden turn as a political apostle shocked his family members, who couldn't remember ever hearing him talk about an election before. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "The Furious Hunt for the MAGA Bomber," 12 Aug. 2020

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 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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Time Traveler for apostle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for apostle

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apostle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apostle. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for apostle


How to pronounce apostle (audio)

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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