mis·​sion | \ ˈmi-shən How to pronounce mission (audio) \

Definition of mission

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a specific task with which a person or a group is charged Their mission was to help victims of the disaster.
b(1) : a definite military, naval, or aerospace task a bombing mission a space mission
(2) : a flight operation of an aircraft or spacecraft in the performance of a mission a mission to Mars
c : a preestablished and often self-imposed objective or purpose statement of the company's mission
2 : calling, vocation Her mission was to be a teacher.
3 : a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity: such as
a : a group sent to a foreign country to conduct diplomatic or political negotiations a member of a trade mission
b : a permanent embassy or legation
c : a team of specialists or cultural leaders sent to a foreign country served on a mission to improve agricultural methods
4a : a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate (see propagate sense 3b) its faith or carry on humanitarian work … there was a little port called Quinchang, where the fathers of the mission usually landed from Macao, on their progress to teach the Christian religion to the Chinese …— Daniel Defoe
b : assignment to or work in a field of missionary enterprise
c(1) : a mission establishment
(2) : a local church or parish dependent on a larger religious organization for direction or financial support Spanish missions in California
d missions plural : organized missionary work
e : a course of sermons and services given to convert the unchurched or quicken Christian faith a preaching mission
5 obsolete : the act or an instance of sending


missioned; missioning\ ˈmi-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce missioning (audio) \

Definition of mission (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to send on or entrust with a mission
2 : to carry on a religious mission among or in



Definition of mission (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : of or relating to a style used in the early Spanish missions of the southwestern U.S. mission architecture
2 : of, relating to, or having the characteristic of a style of plain heavy usually oak furniture originating in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century


geographical name
Mis·​sion | \ ˈmi-shən How to pronounce Mission (audio) \

Definition of Mission (Entry 4 of 4)

1 city near the Rio Grande in southern Texas population 77,058
2 municipality on the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia, Canada population 36,426

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Did You Know?

Your own mission in life can be anything you pursue with almost religious enthusiasm. People with a mission—whether it's stopping drunk driving, keeping the town's public areas clean, increasing local recycling, or building a community center—very often succeed in really changing things.

Examples of mission in a Sentence

Noun Our mission was to recover the stolen plans. By patient negotiation she succeeded in her mission of averting a strike. a mission to the moon a member of a trade mission
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Iran’s expansionist policies in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon have been contentious at home among ordinary Iranians and some reformist politicians who saw money and resources diverted from Iran to fund General Suleimani’s missions. Tim Arango, New York Times, "Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in Mideast," 3 Jan. 2020 The group’s supporters responded by attacking the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which is the largest and most fortified diplomatic mission in the world. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Is the Killing of Qassem Suleimani an Act of War?," 3 Jan. 2020 Both missions would be crucial to containing a North Korean attack. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "Faulty Equipment, Lapsed Training, Repeated Warnings: How a Preventable Disaster Killed Six Marines," 2 Jan. 2020 The shift in mission prompted the OSF’s founders to leave. John Gurda, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The demise of St. Francis Convent Chapel in Milwaukee raises questions about how to save historical structures," 2 Jan. 2020 The agency would be relatively slim and mission-focused, bearing more similarities to the FBI or CIA than bureaucratic behemoths like DHS. Andrew Burt, Time, "Our Government's Approach to Cybersecurity Is a Costly Mess. Here's What Would Fix the Problem," 2 Jan. 2020 The 104-acre compound in Baghdad dwarfs the size of U.S. diplomatic missions elsewhere. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "Attack on U.S. Embassy in Baghdad underscores America’s polarization — and peril," 2 Jan. 2020 That is the essential rationale for the U.S. Space Force — given the complexity and scale of operations in space, that domain requires a dedicated mission focus. James Stavridis, Twin Cities, "James Stavridis: May the (Space) Force be with you," 31 Dec. 2019 But with more Mormon women continuing their education, marrying later, and embracing mission work, some leaders are making moves toward a more permissive approach. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Mormon women are caught between economic pressures and the word of God," 31 Dec. 2019

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


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 5


1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1900, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mission

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

New Latin, Medieval Latin, & Latin; New Latin mission-, missio religious mission, from Medieval Latin, task assigned, from Latin, act of sending, from mittere to send

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Time Traveler for mission

Time Traveler

The first known use of mission was in 1530

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Statistics for mission

Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mission.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mission?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=m&file=missio02. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for mission


How to pronounce Mission (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mission

: a task or job that someone is given to do
: a specific military or naval task
: a flight by an aircraft or spacecraft to perform a specific task


mis·​sion | \ ˈmi-shən How to pronounce mission (audio) \

Kids Definition of mission

1 : a task that is assigned or begun
2 : a task that is regarded as a very important duty She thinks of teaching as her mission.
3 : a group of missionaries
4 : a group of people sent by a government to represent it in a foreign country
5 : a place where the work of missionaries is carried on

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Comments on mission

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


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