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 martyrization (audio) \ noun
martyrize \ ˈmär-​tə-​ˌrīz How to pronounce martyrize (audio) \ transitive verb

Examples of martyr in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Cecilia was a Roman martyr and the patron saint of musicians. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "In Rome, the Definitive Raphael Show: Raffaello: 1520–1483," 2 Sep. 2020 Suddenly serious, Navalny said Putin did not want him to be made into a martyr. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Trolls, tracking and films: How Putin’s Russia obsessively hounded opposition leader Navalny," 29 Aug. 2020 The gadfly of ancient Athens, patron saint of Western philosophy, and its first martyr has much to teach about modern life and business. Eric Weiner, Fortune, "The business advice Socrates would give if he wrote a management book today," 25 Aug. 2020 Milholland would become a potent symbol, a martyr to the cause and an inspiration to the two million members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Smithsonian Magazine, "Recreating a Suffragist’s Campaign Through the American West," 10 July 2020 Iran is taking a very different approach to this year’s Muharram ceremonies, which begin on August 20th and bring millions of Muslims together to mourn the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and favoured martyr of Shia Islam. The Economist, "A rite old mess Iran’s clerics argue over how to hold the festival of Muharram," 22 Aug. 2020 Although he was released to prevent him from becoming a national martyr, his brother and co-defendent, Oleg, served three and a half years in jail. Regina Smyth, The Conversation, "How Alexei Navalny revolutionized opposition politics in Russia, before his apparent poisoning," 21 Aug. 2020 The 21-year-old man’s death has galvanized an anti-government movement that hails Lemp as a martyr. Michael Kunzelman, baltimoresun.com, "Group sues police for any videos of Maryland man’s fatal shooting; Howard County prosecutors reviewing case," 12 Aug. 2020 The 21-year-old man's death has galvanized an anti-government movement that hails Lemp as a martyr. Michael Kunzelman, Star Tribune, "Group sues police for any videos of man's fatal shooting," 11 Aug. 2020 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 The Russian boy Pavlik Morozov, 13, was supposedly martyred as a Hero of the Soviet Revolution for turning in his parents to the Bolsheviks. Daniel Lee, National Review, "Greta Thunberg and Samantha Smith: Propaganda Poster Girls," 2 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

6 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for martyr

martyr

noun
How to pronounce martyr (audio)

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

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