min·​is·​ter | \ ˈmi-nə-stər How to pronounce minister (audio) \

Definition of minister

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : agent the angels are ministers of the divine will— H. P. Liddon
2a : one officiating or assisting the officiant in church worship
b : a clergyman or clergywoman especially of a Protestant communion
3a : the superior (see superior entry 2 sense 1) of one of several religious orders

called also minister-general

b : the assistant to the rector or the bursar of a Jesuit house
4 : a high officer of state entrusted with the management of a division of governmental activities the British Minister of Defence
5a : a diplomatic representative (such as an ambassador) accredited to the court (see court entry 1 sense 1c) or seat of government of a foreign state
b : a diplomatic representative ranking below an ambassador


ministered; ministering\ ˈmi-​nə-​st(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce ministering (audio) \

Definition of minister (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to function as a minister of religion
2 : to give aid or service minister to the sick

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Examples of minister in a Sentence


the British ministers at the international peace conference our minister gives an interesting sermon every week

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In exchange, Netanyahu allegedly helped Milchan, an Israeli citizen, extend his U.S. visa and asked his finance minister at the time for income tax exemptions to benefit Milchan. Washington Post, "For Netanyahu, winning reelection could be the only way to avoid corruption charges," 18 Sep. 2019 Only the refusal of his former defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, to join a new coalition prevented Netanyahu from being sworn in for a fifth term in office. Oren Liebermann, CNN, "Israelis return to polls to decide Netanyahu's fate," 17 Sep. 2019 His interior minister has called for decriminalization and regulation of illicit drugs so as to take away power from the cartels and stop punishing users. Lissette Romero And Amy Guthrie,, "Mexican cannabis users eagerly await legal marijuana," 13 Sep. 2019 His brother subsequently quit Parliament and his Cabinet post in protest, and another senior Conservative politician, Amber Rudd, resigned her minister’s post over the weekend. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "The question before Britain’s Parliament: Can Boris Johnson be trusted to obey the law?," 9 Sep. 2019 Lam has asked her ministers to go to the community to start direct dialogue. Christine Loh, Time, "Hong Kong People Know That They Are Better Than Their Current Politics," 7 Sep. 2019 In August, for example, his defence minister tried to rein in a loyalist militia known as the Tiger Forces. The Economist, "Syria’s war is drawing to a close. But the pain will go on," 5 Sep. 2019 King George and his ministers could only enact laws, including laws that taxed the British people, with the consent of Parliament. Eliga Gould, The Conversation, "The American Founders made sure the president could never suspend Congress," 3 Sep. 2019 My pastor blamed me, fired my youth minister and began abusing me. Susan Codone, Twin Cities, "Susan Codone: Protestants must step up efforts to stop sexual abuse in churches," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Before becoming auxiliary bishop for Baltimore, Brennan spent decades ministering to immigrants, including 19 years celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments in English and Spanish at parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Jonathan Pitts,, "Baltimore auxiliary bishop to bring pastoral ways to a West Virginia diocese troubled by scandal," 23 July 2019 Anyone with information concerning abuse by anyone ministering through Glenmary or the Diocese of Covington is asked to call either Dorsey at 513-881-7402 or Margaret Schack, a diocesan safe environment director, at 859-392-1500. Max Londberg,, "Kentucky priest accused of inappropriately touching two girls, Diocese of Covington says," 8 Aug. 2019 The surveillance has severely interfered with her ability to minister to migrant and refugee communities who have fled violence and corruption and are distrustful of the government, according to the lawsuit. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pastor sues DHS over government surveillance program targeting migrant advocates," 9 July 2019 In 1984 or 1985, Obst’s friend, the producer Howard Rosenman, invited her to a church in Los Angeles to see a speaker who had begun ministering to the gay men of West Hollywood in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Marianne Williamson Wants Politics to Enter the New Age," 14 Aug. 2019 In her lifetime Shirley ministered in 41 different nations throughout the world, both as a teacher and an intercessor., "Deaths in Central Florida: 8/7," 7 Aug. 2019 The scenes in the two cities were quite similar: pastors from Nigeria or Congo ministered to economic migrants from their native countries, offering a connection with home in a familiar style. Erasmus, The Economist, "Why charismatic Christianity is popular with migrants," 3 Aug. 2019 Hart, who ministers to churches in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, knew the procession was a terrible sign. Jim Morrison, Washington Post, "Virginia Beach vigil sends a message of ‘unity’," 6 June 2019 The group began as lay Franciscan woman and men who came from Bavaria in 1849 with plans to minister to German immigrants in North America. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Take a look inside the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi's new convent," 4 June 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for minister


Middle English ministre "servant, ecclesiastic, priest, official serving a superior, agent," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin minister "servant, ecclesiastic (short for Deī minister "servant of god"), agent, official," going back to Latin, "servant, priest's attendant, agent," formed from minor-, minus "less, lesser" (with the suffix of location and opposition -ter) after magister "manager, master entry 1" — more at minus entry 1


Middle English ministren, borrowed from Anglo-French ministrer, borrowed from Latin ministrāre "to act as a servant, serve, supply" (Late Latin, "to serve as an ecclesiastic"), derivative of minister "servant, minister entry 1"

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2019

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The first known use of minister was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of minister

: a person whose job involves leading church services, performing religious ceremonies (such as marriages), and providing spiritual or religious guidance to other people : a member of the clergy in some Protestant churches
: an official who heads a government department or a major section of a department in some countries (such as Britain)
: a person who represents his or her own government while living in a foreign country


min·​is·​ter | \ ˈmi-nə-stər How to pronounce minister (audio) \

Kids Definition of minister

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who performs religious ceremonies especially in Protestant church services
2 : a government official at the head of a section of government activities minister of education
3 : a person who represents his or her government in a foreign country


ministered; ministering

Kids Definition of minister (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give help or care minister to the sick

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More from Merriam-Webster on minister

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for minister

Spanish Central: Translation of minister

Nglish: Translation of minister for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of minister for Arabic Speakers

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