em·​is·​sary | \ ˈe-mə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce emissary (audio) , -ˌse-rē \
plural emissaries

Definition of emissary

1 : one designated as the agent of another : representative
2 : a secret agent

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Like missionaries, emissaries are sent on missions. However, emissaries are more likely to be representing governments, political leaders, and nonreligious institutions, and an emissary's mission is usually to negotiate or to gather information. So a president may send a trusted emissary to a war-torn region to discuss peace terms. A company's CEO may send an emissary to check out another company that they may be thinking of buying. And a politician may send out an emissary to persuade a wealthy individual to become a supporter.

Examples of emissary in a Sentence

She acted as the president's personal emissary to the union leaders. most of the industrialized nations of the world sent emissaries to the conference on global warming
Recent Examples on the Web Biden assigned Harris in March as his chief emissary to the Northern Triangle countries from which many of the migrants arriving at the U.S. border have fled – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, 7 June 2021 The emissary who pressured ING was an executive of Mr. Salinas Pliego’s holding company, Grupo Salinas, in addition to being a legislator. Santiago Pérez, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021 The money is then given to the Kohen, God’s emissary. Rabbi Avi Weiss, sun-sentinel.com, 17 May 2021 Emails released during a House investigation last fall showed McClain purportedly acting as Madigan’s emissary to ComEd officials. Dan Petrella, chicagotribune.com, 16 Apr. 2021 The first Chabad emissary had arrived in the mid-’90s. Howard Riell, sun-sentinel.com, 14 Apr. 2021 The result is a definitive account of Europa Clipper’s inception—and of the often heroic and sometimes tragic human struggles behind each and every robotic emissary sent voyaging to worlds beyond. Lee Billings, Scientific American, 9 Mar. 2021 Infused with social media–savvy prose and all the latest tech fads—from cryptocurrency to brain-computer interfaces—the story unfolds through retelling from the alternating points of view of an alien emissary’s closest friends. Rachel King, Fortune, 6 Dec. 2020 The first of several secret meetings in Oslo takes place in January 1993 between the Israeli peace team, with Shimon Peres acting as Rabin’s emissary, and representatives of the PLO, including Yasser Arafat. Daphne Merkin, The New Republic, 8 Feb. 2021

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

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for emissary

Latin emissarius, from emissus, past participle of emittere

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Time Traveler for emissary

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The first known use of emissary was in 1607

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Last Updated

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Emissary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emissary. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for emissary



English Language Learners Definition of emissary

: a person who is sent on a mission to represent another person or organization


em·​is·​sary | \ ˈe-mə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce emissary (audio) \
plural emissaries

Kids Definition of emissary

: a person sent on a mission to represent someone else


em·​is·​sary | \ ˈe-mə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce emissary (audio) \
plural emissaries

Legal Definition of emissary

: a representative usually empowered to act more or less independently (as in collecting or conveying information or in negotiating)

More from Merriam-Webster on emissary

Nglish: Translation of emissary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emissary for Arabic Speakers


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