martyr

noun
mar·​tyr | \ ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio) \

Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2 : a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle a martyr to the cause of freedom
3 : victim especially : a great or constant sufferer a martyr to asthma all his life — A. J. Cronin

martyr

verb
martyred; martyring; martyrs

Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to put to death for adhering to a belief, faith, or profession
2 : to inflict agonizing pain on : torture

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Other Words from martyr

Noun

martyrization \ ˌmär-​tə-​rə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce martyr (audio) \ noun
martyrize \ ˈmär-​tə-​ˌrīz How to pronounce martyr (audio) \ transitive verb

Examples of martyr in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dustin Lance Black’s Academy Award-winning screenplay pays humble tribute to Milk without turning him into a saint or martyr. Jason Bailey, New York Times, "Stream These 13 Movies and Shows Before They Leave Netflix in May," 3 May 2021 But the 46-year-old father was not a willing martyr or sacrificial lamb for the Democratic Party's idea of justice reform. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, "A US police officer has been convicted of murder -- but systemic racism remains around the world," 25 Apr. 2021 While the rest of Cincinnati turned her son into a symbol or a rallying cry, a martyr or a criminal, Leisure and her family struggled with the real, day-to-day consequences of his death. Dan Horn, The Enquirer, "'It hurts your soul': Timothy Thomas's mom left Cincinnati to rebuild her life," 10 Apr. 2021 Smith has a martyr-like willingness to put himself in harm’s way for his men that, while not explicitly labeled as Christian, is certainly coded as such. Carolyn Wells, Longreads, "Deconstructing Disney: Queer Coding and Masculinity in Pocahontas," 13 Apr. 2021 The national budget allocates roughly $68 million for the purchase of land for martyr families. Washington Post, "Iraq’s anti-American militias aren’t just Iranian proxies. That helps explain their troubles.," 9 Apr. 2021 Carol transforms from the novel’s exceedingly confident, often cold, sometimes calculating protagonist into a soft, yearning and ultimately martyr-like mother. New York Times, "Do Patricia Highsmith Novels Make Good Films?," 8 Apr. 2021 Kyal Sin, also known as Angel or by her Chinese name, Deng Jia Xi, has emerged as an early martyr and symbol of resistance against a military junta intent on using growing violence to suppress a protest movement that shows no signs of letting up. David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, "‘We will not run!’: Teenager’s death inspires Myanmar protesters — and inflames crisis," 4 Mar. 2021 Her illustration of Saint Peter the Aleut — a native of the Kodiak Islands who was considered a martyr by the Russian Orthodox Church, but may have been completely made up — draws inspiration from Russian icons. Alicia Eler, Star Tribune, "Dakota artist Marlena Myles brings Native culture into the future," 28 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ursula, legend holds, was a British princess martyred in Germany in the 4th century, along with as many as 11,000 of her holy companions. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "A Puerto Rican Fishing Road Trip for Silver Kings, Bigmouths, Mullet, and More," 27 May 2020 The name speaks to a cherished legend about 11,000 virgins, followers of St. Ursula, who arrived in town by boat in medieval times and were eventually martyred in Cologne. Dave Seminara, New York Times, "36 Hours in Basel," 20 Feb. 2020 The Catholic Church recognized at least three different saints with the same Roman name, all of whom were later martyred. cleveland, "The long history of Valentine’s Day told as a short story at The Normandy in Rocky River," 10 Feb. 2020 Start the story with Emiliano Zapata, the peasant leader from a village in the central state of Morelos, who was tricked into a military ambush and martyred in 1919. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Lasting Influence of Mexico’s Great Muralists," 24 Feb. 2020 The search launched Friday, Valentine's Day, a holiday that commemorates the day Saint Valentine was martyred. Ella Torres, ABC News, "The birthplace of Saint Valentine is looking for an American partner," 14 Feb. 2020 Commemorations culminated in Ashura, on the tenth of the month, when Hussein was martyred. The Economist, "Trapped in Iran," 28 Jan. 2020 Khan Mohammad another villager said that on the day of the incident there were around 100 to 110 worshippers in the mosque, of which more than 70 were martyred and more than 30 others were wounded. Rahim Faiez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Afghan village buries its dead after mosque bombing kills 66," 19 Oct. 2019

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for martyr

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek martyr-, martys witness

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Time Traveler for martyr

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for martyr

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for martyr

martyr

noun

English Language Learners Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.
disapproving : a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy
: a person who suffers greatly from something (such as an illness)

martyr

verb

English Language Learners Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill (someone) for refusing to give up a belief or cause

martyr

noun
mar·​tyr | \ ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio) \

Kids Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who suffers greatly or dies rather than give up his or her religion or principles

martyr

verb
martyred; martyring

Kids Definition of martyr (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put to death for refusing to give up a belief

Comments on martyr

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