em·​is·​sary | \ˈe-mə-ˌser-ē, -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

These sober emissaries seem oddly matched, at first, with two gregarious, rumpled (and rather clownishly drawn) economics professors dispatched by Rabin. Misha Berson, The Seattle Times, "At ACT Theatre, ‘Oslo’ finds crackling drama in back-channel negotiations," 23 Oct. 2018 And, of course, there was this year’s visit by Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s emissary to Silicon Valley, who was greeted with glitz and glam at America’s most prominent corporations. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "In the Tesla drama, Saudi Arabia reminds Silicon Valley of its weight," 13 Aug. 2018 In the context of the problems that Messi and his teammates are experiencing in Russia, the fact that some of Argentina’s coaching emissaries are also struggling will be seen as just one more excuse for national self-flagellation. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Made in Argentina, and Now Coaching Everywhere at the World Cup," 25 June 2018 Shimron’s brother-in-law and legal partner, Yitzhak Molcho, meanwhile, was serving as Netanyahu’s primary foreign policy emissary. Matthew Campbell, Bloomberg.com, "Benjamin Netanyahu Could Be Heading for a Fifth Term. Or to Court," 14 June 2018 In 2010, while the Pac-10 tried to swipe Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado from the Big 12, Slive sent an emissary to gauge the Aggies’ interest. Andy Staples, SI.com, "Mike Slive’s SEC Accomplishments Were Only Part of a Life Filled With Victories," 16 May 2018 Mexican cocaine traffickers increasingly send emissaries to Colombia to secure shipments of a drug that has been booming, said Jerry McDermott, co-director of Insight Crime, which tracks Colombian drug gangs. Juan Forero And Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "Colombia Cocaine-Trafficking Probe Poses Risk to Peace Accord," 28 Apr. 2018 Some placating was definitely in order: the same emissaries sent to inform the Hungarian crown of their adorable new family member were also tasked with negotiating Joanna’s way out of certain clauses in her nuptial treaty. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 Created in conjunction with foremost tequila emissary Tomas Estes, Ocho is an artisanal tequila: each vintage produced from a single agave field with its own distinctive terroir, like wine. Mark Seal, WSJ, "The Tequila Gold Rush," 19 June 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

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Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

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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 \
plural emissaries

Kids Definition of emissary

: a person sent on a mission to represent someone else


em·​is·​sary | \ˈe-mə-ˌser-ē \
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

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