min·is·ter | \ ˈmi-nə-stər \

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\-st(ə-)riŋ \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for minister

Synonyms: Noun

clergyperson, cleric, clerical, clerk, deacon, divine, dominie, ecclesiastic, preacher, priest, reverend

Antonyms: Noun

layman, layperson, secular

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

He's also been seen on TV furiously scolding his ministers for the absence of decent public transportation. Gustavo Ocando Alex, miamiherald, "With little public transportation, Venezuelans resort to dangerous, illegal ‘kennels’ to get around," 12 July 2018 Junior roles in the Ministry of Justice followed, from 2015 until earlier this year, when he was appointed minister for housing. The Economist, "Meet Dominic Raab: the new Brexit boss," 9 July 2018 Image Lisa Ann Hill and Theodore Reuben Ellis were married July 7 at Onteora Mountain House, an events space in Boiceville, N.Y. Marilyn J. Hill, the bride’s aunt who became a Universal Life minister for the occasion, officiated. New York Times, "Lisa Hill, Theodore Ellis," 8 July 2018 When meeting No Kwang Chol, North Korea’s minister for the People’s Armed Forces and a top military leader, Trump initially tries to shake his hand. Adam Taylor,, "Documentary shows President Trump saluting North Korean general," 16 June 2018 Now a minister for New Beginning Baptist Church in Houston, Richard is off the streets and back on his feet. Shaun Goodwin, kansascity, "From baseball All-Star to homeless to minister: J.R. Richard's journey," 9 June 2018 Germany and others are not in charitable mood, and there's no guarantee of an agreement that will allow Greece to sustain its debt load when EU finance ministers hold a make-or-break meeting later this month. Tim Lister, CNN, "Europe is on the verge of a big new crisis, just six years after the last one," 2 June 2018 Mattarella used his power to veto Euro-skeptic Paolo Savona from being Italy’s finance minister. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Hurricane Maria was far deadlier than we thought," 30 May 2018 On Sunday, however, Italian President Sergio Mattarella blocked that deal by rejecting their preferred candidate for finance minister, 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona, who has openly advocated pulling Italy out of the euro. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Italy’s Political Crisis Is Rattling Europe. Here’s What You Need to Know.," 30 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the Argentine pontiff clearly believes that emphasizing a poor church ministering to the world’s outcasts is a more authentic, appealing — and ultimately evangelizing — global message than a defense of orthodoxy and Europe’s Christian roots. Jason Horowitz,, "As Ireland joins Europe’s sprint from Catholic fold, Francis looks south," 27 May 2018 Rollenhagen, who has ministered at Faith for more than seven years, said discussions about consolidation were ongoing and became more focused about a year ago. Carol Kovach,, "Good Soil Lutheran Ministries sprouts from consolidation of Faith, Our Savior's congregations," 26 Feb. 2018 Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, who is on the mission trip, was quoted by WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) saying the group conducted service projects in Haiti this week, ministering to the people of Haiti and educating them about clean water. Hasan Dudar, Detroit Free Press, "Members of Troy church stranded as protests break out in Haiti," 9 July 2018 The uncertainty has set up the possibility of a sharp move in crude prices—in either direction—when OPEC ministers finally announce their decision, slated for early Friday. Summer Said, WSJ, "OPEC, Russia Promise More Oil, but Can They Pump Enough?," 20 June 2018 Pedro Duque -- who's been an astronaut since 1992 and was the first Spaniard to go into space -- will serve as the science, innovation and universities minister in Spain's new government. Laura Smith-spark And Elena Gyldenkerne, CNN, "Astronaut Pedro Duque appointed to Spain's new Cabinet," 6 June 2018 The grand jury investigated six of the state's eight dioceses, which collectively minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics. Claudia Lauer, Fox News, "Report on Pennsylvania priest abuse to be most extensive yet," 10 June 2018 Also: Rabbi Sally is a saint, like the saintly priests and rabbis in concentration camps who continued to minister in hopeless circumstances. Rena Gross, Billboard, "14 Crushing (And Occasionally Uplifting) Moments From 'Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, Episode 5," 16 May 2018 The ordinance would not prohibit churches from preaching, ministering or otherwise speaking about the issue. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Shorewood might ban gay conversion therapy, following the lead of dozens of other cities," 8 May 2018

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.

See More

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"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about minister

Phrases Related to minister

minister to

Statistics for minister

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for minister

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for minister



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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on minister

What made you want to look up minister? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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