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


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

Other Words from martyr


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 The many posters peppering the West Bank call her a martyr. Dalia Hatuqa, CNN, 16 May 2022 Using a bold approach that allows for introspection rather than rage, neither vilifying, excusing nor martyr-making, the subjects achieve equal and fair footing. Holly Jones, Variety, 30 Apr. 2022 Tell us about Caesar Chavez’ translator, Nagi Daifullah, the Yemini date farmer and first martyr of the Great Grape Boycott. Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Apr. 2022 Abrams emerged from losing her first statewide race in 2018 as a martyr who claimed that she was cheated out of the job. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, 30 Mar. 2022 Thus the martyr-everyone-could-agree-on, culture-in-command Gramsci was born. Thomas Meaney, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2022 Hugh avoids reducing her to either a martyr or a plucky success story. Judy Berman, Time, 25 Mar. 2022 A century later, Simon was canonized by the Catholic Church and deemed a martyr. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, 3 Feb. 2022 Her Pam is a master manipulator disguised as a chatty busybody, and an attention-seeking martyr capable of casual cruelty. Kristen Baldwin,, 4 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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,, 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 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, 20 Feb. 2020 The Catholic Church recognized at least three different saints with the same Roman name, all of whom were later martyred. cleveland, 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, 24 Feb. 2020 The search launched Friday, Valentine's Day, a holiday that commemorates the day Saint Valentine was martyred. Ella Torres, ABC News, 14 Feb. 2020 Commemorations culminated in Ashura, on the tenth of the month, when Hussein was martyred. The Economist, 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, 19 Oct. 2019 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.

First Known Use of martyr


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


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

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

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Martyr.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for martyr


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

Kids Definition of martyr

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who suffers greatly or dies for a religion or cause


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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