martyr

1 of 2

noun

mar·​tyr ˈmär-tər How to pronounce martyr (audio)
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
martyrization noun
martyrize transitive verb

martyr

2 of 2

verb

martyred; martyring; martyrs

transitive verb

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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Some women's cheeks bore drawings of a red poppy, the symbol of a martyr in Iran. Jade Le Deley, ajc, 2 Oct. 2022 In this regard, Isaiah shouldn’t be viewed as some sort of martyr who took one for humanity to show us how to forgive. Don Yaeger, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 After the Roman Empire legalized Christianity in the early fourth century, smaller buildings called shrine churches were sometimes built around the tomb of a martyr. Joanne M. Pierce, The Conversation, 4 May 2022 Hall plays her character as a kind of martyr, a loyal wife who has learned how to fake a smile and say what other people want to hear, when her true feelings are clearly boiling beneath the surface. Peter Debruge, Variety, 23 Jan. 2022 The dual narrative follows Iris Griffen, angry and elderly, and her sister, Laura, whose book, also called The Blind Assassin, has made Laura into a kind of martyr after her death by suicide. Bethanne Patrick, The Atlantic, 19 Jan. 2022 Holding out Greene as some kind of free-speech martyr because her personal Twitter account was shuttered is as fanciful and absurd as one of those pyrotechnic Jewish lasers. Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2022 Dostoevsky denies Raskolnikov the glamour of a martyr and presents him instead as an angry and confused young man, humiliated by poverty and acting out of shame. Jennifer Wilson, The New Republic, 28 Dec. 2021 Despite those findings, Babbitt has become something of a martyr to the far right. Arkansas Online, 28 Aug. 2021
Verb
Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, cleveland, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Chicago Tribune, 18 Aug. 2022 Her choice to martyr herself to a husband who sounds like a selfish deadbeat must seem puzzling to you, but your role here is not to fix her life. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 18 Aug. 2022 As for the food and cleanup, don’t martyr yourself. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 24 July 2022 Catanzara’s potential ouster as a Chicago police officer could also martyr him to supporters in the FOP who see him as an outspoken foe of the Lightfoot administration. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, 14 Nov. 2021 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, 27 May 2020 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near martyr

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

martyr 1 of 2

noun

mar·​tyr ˈmärt-ər How to pronounce martyr (audio)
1
: a person who suffers death rather than give up his or her religion
2
: one who sacrifices life or something of great value for a principle or cause
3
: a person who suffers greatly

martyr

2 of 2

verb

1
: to put to death for refusing to give up a belief
2
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ