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 Their combative and isolationist worldview is utterly foreign to most Cubans raised in the post-Soviet era, as are the romantic accounts of revolutionary struggles and martyrs that once dominated official culture. Coco Fusco, The New York Review of Books, "Love Among the Ruins," 24 Mar. 2020 Fakher, a father of three, is said to have been the first martyr of the revolution. Nai Zakharia, The New Yorker, "A View of the Revolution in Lebanon from Martyrs’ Square," 22 Feb. 2020 The joy is not complete because martyrs of Nasiriyah and Najaf were just buried; their blood is still red. Washington Post, "Iraqi prime minister says he will submit resignation to head off further bloodshed," 29 Nov. 2019 From the martyrs of World War II to the heroes who led the fight against communist rule, priests in Poland have long played an outsize role in shaping the political life of this deeply Catholic country. Marc Santora, New York Times, "Mixing Politics and Piety, a Conservative Priest Seeks to Shape Poland’s Future," 21 Sep. 2019 Victims were heralded as martyrs for sacrificing their health for the good of their colleagues. Hugo Restall, WSJ, "‘Drunk in China’ Review: The Proletariat’s White Wine," 16 Jan. 2020 For some in Ukraine, Lang is emerging as a martyr for a court system that critics say is infested with U.S. political influence. NBC News, "Ex-U.S. soldier, now a double murder suspect, is a hero in Ukraine," 28 Dec. 2019 An all-white jury voted to acquit the men after defense attorneys argued that Civil Rights activists hastened the minister’s death to create a white martyr for the cause. al.com, "Podcast ‘White Lies’ finds fourth attacker in unsolved Selma murder case," 18 June 2019 Today, the religious and cultural symbolism of Soleimani’s killing appears to have inspired Iranians once again to set aside their differences, at least temporarily, to mourn a new martyr. Deina Abdelkader, The Conversation, "Killing of Soleimani evokes dark history of political assassinations in the formative days of Shiite Islam," 10 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Its revelations are from the mid-1960s, at the height of the civil-rights movement, the years before King was martyred and canonized, his name bestowed upon a national holiday and a thousand avenues and high schools. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "A Reckoning With Martin Luther King," 17 June 2019 For Islamist militants around the world, being martyred in an operation during Ramadan is considered especially heroic. New York Times, "India Declares a Rare Cease-Fire in Kashmir for Ramadan," 17 May 2018

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

1 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr. Accessed 6 Apr. 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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