leg·​ate | \ ˈle-gət How to pronounce legate (audio) \

Definition of legate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a usually official emissary


le·​gate | \ li-ˈgāt How to pronounce legate (audio) \
legated; legating

Definition of legate (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from legate


legateship \ ˈle-​gət-​ˌship How to pronounce legate (audio) \ noun


legator \ li-​ˈgā-​tər How to pronounce legate (audio) \ noun

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Legate is a somewhat old-fashioned word, less used today than it was a century ago. More common is the synonym envoy. In the days before electronic communications, a legate often had particularly large responsibilities, since he couldn't check with his government to be sure he was doing the right thing. The Vatican still sends papal legates to represent the pope's point of view in negotiations.

Examples of legate in a Sentence

Noun the legate was charged with a list of objectives to accomplish on behalf of his country
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The wife of the ailing emperor sends an Imperial legate — her nephew — to investigate. N. K. Jemisin, New York Times, 14 July 2017 That Francis forced Festing’s resignation without deigning to pick up Burke’s gauntlet was further vindication of the Pope, who will soon appoint his own legate to run the Order. James Carroll, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'legate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of legate


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for legate


Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French legat, from Latin legatus deputy, emissary, from past participle of legare to depute, send as emissary, bequeath, from leg-, lex


legatus, past participle of legare to bequeath

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Time Traveler for legate

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Legate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legate. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for legate



English Language Learners Definition of legate

: an official representative sent to a foreign country especially : an official representative of the pope

More from Merriam-Webster on legate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for legate

Nglish: Translation of legate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about legate


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