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 minister (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

Noun the British ministers at the international peace conference our minister gives an interesting sermon every week
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mélanie Joly, Canada's minister of economic development, who is responsible for tourism, said keeping the borders closed was a matter of pragmatism. Dan Bilefsky, Star Tribune, "Canada misses American tourist money, but sees some upside," 14 Feb. 2021 Johnson was raised by his mother, a laundress, after his father, a minister of the gospel, was murdered in the 1860s. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "One of Texas’ first Black lawyers asked to ‘give us a white man’s chance.’ Few remember John Johnson," 11 Feb. 2021 But try telling the finance minister of one of those, Ghana, that African countries have had it easy. The Economist, "At the end of the line Africa’s recovery from covid-19 will be slow," 6 Feb. 2021 Johnson reportedly raised the matter with Britain’s minister for Scottish affairs without any luck. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Blow Up the Donor-to-Ambassador Pipeline," 2 Feb. 2021 Chris Pincher, the minister for housing, speaking in Parliament, defended the upcoming building safety bill and the fire safety bill, adding that the issue was complex. Megan Specia, New York Times, "U.K. Opposition Demands Action as Building Cladding Crisis Escalates," 1 Feb. 2021 Chris Pincher, the minister for housing, speaking in Parliament, defended the upcoming building safety bill and the fire safety bill, adding that the issue was a complex one. Megan Specia,, "UK opposition demands action as building cladding crisis escalates," 1 Feb. 2021 Brian Henderson, minister of First Baptist Church of Denver that sits across an avenue from the shuttered Colorado Capitol, was so close to the upheavals of 2020 that he was struck in the left knee with a pepper ball. oregonlive, "Residents in Salem, Olympia and other capital cities hope inauguration will bring relief from tense protests," 20 Jan. 2021 On 9 January, Sadikin signed a memorandum of understanding with Bambang Brodjonegoro, minister of research and technology, aimed at increasing those numbers and strengthening collaboration between Indonesian universities. Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Science | AAAS, "COVID-19 cases are soaring in Indonesia. Can a new health minister turn things around?," 15 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Black Christian pastors in Utah may minister to small congregations, with older members slowly dying out, or large ones, attracting younger believers. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Racism isn’t a hypothetical topic for Utah’s Black pastors. They’ve tasted it.," 30 Jan. 2021 At a time when church attendance has been steadily declining, Goodwin plans to minister to and pursue people who do not attend church, those who are marginalized, and young people. Darcie Ortique,, "Darrell Goodwin represents more than 600 churches as the new leader for the United Church of Christ; he has big plans," 27 Dec. 2020 Brandner said a diocesan official told him Highfill would no longer be allowed to publicly minister in Las Vegas. Ramon Antonio Vargas,, "After years of accusations, this retired New Orleans priest is now on a clergy abuse list," 19 Aug. 2020 Haraszthy promised Inama 100 acres of free land to build a church and school, which led Inama to minister in communities throughout the area, including those in what are now Sauk, Iowa, Jefferson, Dodge, Juneau and Waukesha counties. Barry Adams, Star Tribune, "A temporary view in Roxbury as its church gets an upgrade," 17 Aug. 2020 The withholding of public facilities and the refusal to allow a church to minister as a result of a social media ‘like’ implicates freedom of speech in a profound way. al, "Sessions calls on Birmingham agencies to reverse ban on Church of the Highlands," 10 June 2020 Green said the 82-year-old Baptist church has been busy ministering and offering comfort to its members who have been impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. NBC News, "Harlem church mourning 11 members who died from COVID-19," 8 Apr. 2020 Across the country, clergy of all religious traditions are struggling to do some of the most challenging and most personal parts of their job in a time of new restrictions on in-person gatherings: ministering to the sick, the dying and the bereaved. Julie Zauzmer, Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. clergy minister to the sick and dying via FaceTime and Zoom," 2 Apr. 2020 As Italy remains on lockdown until at least April 3, priests across this overwhelmingly Catholic country are being forced to look for alternative ways to minister to their flocks. Francesca Berardi / Turin, Time, "Italy's Catholic Priests Are Finding New Ways to Lead Worship During the Lockdown," 17 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for minister

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Minister.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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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 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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