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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for minister

Synonyms: Noun

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

Antonyms: Noun

layman, layperson, secular

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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

Davis was supplanted by Dominic Raab, an ex-housing minister who was a leading Brexit proponent. Laura King,, "British Prime Minister May's government appears in turmoil amid resignations tied to Brexit," 9 July 2018 Pictured, the 59th OPEC oil ministers meeting opens on Dec. 15, 1980 in Bali, Indonesia. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s Anchor, Ponders a Future Without the Cartel," 8 Nov. 2018 Several prominent chief executives, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Ford Motor chairman Bill Ford, also canceled plans to attend the conference, along with ministers from Britain, France and the Netherlands. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Uber is building tools to Uber-ize all kinds of work," 19 Oct. 2018 In May, the 64-year-old minister delivered a sermon at their wedding. Eileen Reslen, Town & Country, "Bishop Michael Curry Congratulates Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Their Pregnancy News," 16 Oct. 2018 In North Carolina – which also held primaries Tuesday – a Republican congressman, Rep. Robert Pittenger, lost the Republican primary to challenger Mark Harris, a Baptist minister. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Morrisey pulls off upset in W.Va. Senate primary, as Indiana’s Braun and Ohio’s Renacci win nominations," 2 Oct. 2018 Harford County minister Theresa Lewis, 62, delivered a prayer before the balloon release. Brittany Britto,, "Residents gather to remember children lost to violence with community walk, balloon release," 14 July 2018 And the ministers asked the United States to refrain from punishing firms in certain commercial sectors, including energy, auto manufacturing, aviation, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals. NBC News, "U.S. refuses European requests for exemptions from its new sanctions on Iran," 14 July 2018 Newspapers in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Guatemala have probed corruption and helped to bring down presidents or ministers. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The grand jury scrutinized abuse allegations in dioceses that minister to more than half the state's 3.2 million Catholics. Fox News, "The Latest: Report IDs over 1,000 victims of priest abuse," 2 Oct. 2018 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

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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Statistics for minister

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for minister

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

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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

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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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