min·​is·​try | \ˈmi-nə-strē \
plural ministries

Definition of ministry 

1 : ministration the ingenuity of destruction … had outrun the ministry of healing— Dixon Wecter

2 : the office, duties, or functions of a minister was well prepared for the ministry

3 : the body of ministers of religion : clergy joined the Presbyterian ministry

4 : a person or thing through which something is accomplished : agency, instrumentality heroic believers become such by the ministry of heroic pain— Austin Phelps

5 : the period of service or office of a minister or ministry Many reforms were enacted during his ministry.

6 often capitalized

a : the body of ministers governing a nation or state from which a smaller cabinet (see cabinet entry 1 sense 3b) is sometimes selected

b : the group of ministers constituting a cabinet

7a : a government department presided over by a minister the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

b : the building in which the business of a ministry is transacted

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for ministry


church, clergy, cloth, first estate, spirituality, spiritualty



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of ministry in a Sentence

a member of the ministry She learned a lot during her first year of ministry.

Recent Examples on the Web

All relevant results are ultimately passed on to each country’s ministry of health to help shape future changes in policy. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "A Never-Before-Seen Virus Has Been Detected in Myanmar’s Bats," 11 July 2018 In France, for example, a centralized ministry of education governs schools directly. Jack Schneider, The Atlantic, "The Problem With Generalizing About ‘America’s Schools’," 5 July 2018 James Parish church’s basement and former school building into a new home for the student ministry. Jacob Adelman,, "University City Newman Center slated for replacement with 30-story apartment tower," 2 July 2018 The Chinese foreign ministry said in December that Turnbull's remarks were prejudiced against China and had poisoned the atmosphere of China-Australia relations. Rod Mcguirk, The Christian Science Monitor, "Australia approves bill to make foreign influence on politics more transparent," 26 June 2018 On June 19th officials in the CAR’s foreign ministry told AFP, a newswire, that the diplomatic passport was a fake, possibly from a batch of passports stolen in 2014. The Economist, "Boris Becker, African diplomat," 21 June 2018 While in the Air Force, his Christian faith began through the ministry of the Navigators., "Raymond J. Lasky," 8 Apr. 2018 Buchleiter knew her colleagues in the world of evangelical Christian ministry also would not understand. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "'Life-changing surgery': IU Health gender affirmation program one of few in Midwest," 9 June 2018 In America, where churches abound, the mark of successful ministry — and, implicitly, a minister’s effectiveness at the job — is a growing, financially comfortable congregation. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke, is bruising, vital, and one of the year’s best films," 25 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ministry

Middle English ministerie, minstri "personal service, religious office, position in a church," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French ministere "service, duty," going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin ministerium "activity of a servant, duty, task, support" (Late Latin, "ecclesiastical service") from minister "servant, minister entry 1" + -ium, denominal suffix of occupations

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ministry

Statistics for ministry

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ministry

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ministry



English Language Learners Definition of ministry

the ministry : religious leaders as a group : ministers as a group

: the office, duties, or work of a religious minister

: a government department or the building in which it is located


min·​is·​try | \ˈmi-nə-strē \
plural ministries

Kids Definition of ministry

1 : the office or duties of a religious minister

2 : a group of religious ministers : clergy

3 : a section of a government headed by a minister the ministry of transportation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ministry

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!