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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Did You Know?

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

San Antonio students lucky enough to be visiting other countries this summer may not see themselves as emissaries. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "Trip overseas helps widen teens' world," 18 June 2019 Finally in 1836, the U.S. Congress dispatched an emissary to London to bring back the money. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "Mr. Smithson’s Family Goes to Washington," 14 June 2019 In both cities, Chabad emissaries have opened their doors to welcome Jewish fans. Dovid Margolin, Jewish Journal, "They came for the World Cup and stayed for Shabbat," 28 June 2018 But the administration would typically send an emissary or two — Joe Biden one year, Valerie Jarrett another. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Netroots Nation, explained," 2 Aug. 2018 The countries have meanwhile sent emissaries abroad to brief foreign leaders and speak to journalists, as well as spend millions on Washington influence firms and advertising. Washington Post, "AP News Guide: What to know about the year-old Qatar crisis," 5 June 2018 The show went so far as to report the Fire sent emissaries to Madrid to close the sale. José Luis Sánchez Pando, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Fire could be nearing acquisition of Spanish striker Torres," 6 May 2018 Who Was There The Gulf state emissary was George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman whose ties to Trumpworld have already fallen under the scrutiny of the Mueller investigation. Chas Danner, Daily Intelligencer, "Beyond Russia: Understanding the New Trump Campaign Collusion Story," 20 May 2018 The Jazz Ambassadors This new documentary recalls when Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, with the support of President Eisenhower, enlisted some of the top talents in American jazz to tour the world as U.S. emissaries, starting in the mid-1950s. Ed Stockly, latimes.com, "Friday's TV highlights: 'The Jazz Ambassadors' on PBS," 4 May 2018

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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emission line

Statistics for emissary

Last Updated

30 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for emissary

The first known use of emissary was in 1607

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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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on emissary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with emissary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emissary

Spanish Central: Translation of emissary

Nglish: Translation of emissary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emissary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on emissary

What made you want to look up emissary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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