dea·​con·​ess ˈdē-kə-nəs How to pronounce deaconess (audio)
: a woman chosen to assist in the church ministry
specifically : one in a Protestant order

Examples of deaconess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Pauline epistles contain numerous references to women who were instrumental in the leadership of the early church: Phoebe, a deaconess; Chloe; Apphia; Euodia; Nympha; Junia. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 More recently, a Nov. 15, 2021 issue of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel noted that in 2017, Israeli archaeologists uncovered stones and mosaics memorializing Theodosia the deaconess and Gregoria the deaconess in the ruins of a 1,600-year-old basilica in Ashdod. Susan Degrane,, 30 Mar. 2022 In her younger years, Webb was an avid churchgoer in Baltimore, Maryland alongside her father, a deacon, and her mother, a deaconess, who met in a church choir. Robyn Mowatt, ELLE, 22 June 2023 Welcome to the Rehearsal Club, an artist residency and the one-year-old reincarnation of a nonprofit organization founded in 1913 by Jane Harriss Hall, an Episcopal deaconess, and Jean Greer, the daughter of New York’s Episcopal bishop. Joanne Kaufman, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2023 The virus also claimed the life of Shirley Miller, 70, a deaconess who assisted with baptisms and communion. Ray Sanchez, CNN, 18 Apr. 2020 Today, the deaconesses can again access their own cemetery and visit the graves of their sisters. Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2019 But the pope asked some skeptical questions at the assembly about whether the responsibilities of deaconesses in the early church were more circumscribed than those of male deacons. Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, 12 May 2016 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deaconess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deaconess was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near deaconess

Cite this Entry

“Deaconess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


dea·​con·​ess ˈdē-kə-nəs How to pronounce deaconess (audio)
: a woman in various Christian churches who is chosen to assist in the church ministry

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