missionary

noun
mis·​sion·​ary | \ ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce missionary (audio) \
plural missionaries

Definition of missionary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person undertaking a mission and especially a religious mission missionaries who strove to convert natives to Christianity

missionary

adjective

Definition of missionary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : relating to, engaged in, or devoted to missions
2 : characteristic of a missionary

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Beginning around 1540, an order of Catholic priests known as the Jesuits began to send its members to many parts of the world to convert peoples who believed in other gods to Christianity. Wherever they went, the Catholic missionaries built central buildings for their religious work, and the buildings themselves became known as missions; many 17th-century missions in the American West and Southwest are now preserved as museums. Their foes, the Protestants, soon began sending out their own missionaries, and today Protestant missionaries are probably far more numerous.

Examples of missionary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of the money was also earmarked for missionary work. Louis Hansen, The Mercury News, "Cupertino man convicted of embezzling over $7.5 million from church," 11 Sep. 2019 Just 3% of American Catholics are black but the percentage in Mississippi is higher, in part because of missionary work by the Franciscans. NBC News, "Catholic church settles sex abuse case with Southern black man," 27 Aug. 2019 Boutwell was a pioneer missionary who settled in the Stillwater area in the 1840s and helped organize the First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater. Mary Divine, Twin Cities, "Historic Stillwater house rescued by TV star gets new life," 15 July 2019 His job was not to be a missionary, but to be a listening ear to people who often go unheard. Tyler Kraft, Indianapolis Star, "Indians pitching coach returns to baseball following 18 years in a traveling ministry," 28 June 2019 Jacobs is actually a Christian missionary dedicated to converting Jews — that is to say, to weakening the Jewish community — and a defrocked one at that. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "My Jewish wedding was the day of the Pittsburgh shooting. Anti-Semites threatened it.," 2 Nov. 2018 The missionaries knew the language, understood the culture, were familiar with the needs and conditions on the ground, and could therefore disseminate aid quickly and efficiently. Heather D. Curtis, The Conversation, "How American Christian media promoted charity abroad," 3 Sep. 2019 Welch’s successor, Jeff Immelt, continued to preach the gospel of Six Sigma, but without the same missionary zeal of its early days. Oliver Staley, Quartz at Work, "Whatever happened to Six Sigma?," 3 Sep. 2019 In 1819, one year before missionaries from the United States arrived in Hawai‘i, the kapu system was overthrown. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Learn to Surf on the Break Where it All Began," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But a missionary stint in Africa taught her to see that the world was vast and that people held various notions about how to live. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "There’s a pop-up art museum downtown that literally lets you walk in another Denverite’s shoes," 27 Aug. 2019 Duke and his friends, who became known as the Beach Boys of Waikiki, brought surfing back to national and international attention as missionary influence in the islands faded. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Learn to Surf on the Break Where it All Began," 12 Aug. 2019 William Eddy was a product of the missionary Brahmins of Beirut. Darren Dochuk, The New Republic, "Men of God and the Genesis of the U.S.-Saudi Relationship," 17 July 2019 Screengrab from Twitter Lily Harrison planned to go to Ethiopia in at the end of June to perform missionary work at a refugee camp, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Teen DUI driver kills 15-year-old in head-on collision, then falls 200 feet, cops say," 4 June 2019 Eric Blievernicht, the missionary group’s operations manager, said in an email Saturday that the three carried Gospel tracts and MP3 players with Scripture and other Christian material to share with villagers. Grant Peck, The Seattle Times, "Evangelical group says 3 US volunteers detained in Laos," 13 Apr. 2019 Violent Time Members of a Troy church who were a part of a missionary group have returned home safely after being stranded in Haiti, according to a Facebook post from the church. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Stranded Troy Kensington Church mission members back from Haiti," 11 July 2018 In 1884, a former monk left an archabbey in Germany’s upper Danube valley to start an independent congregation that combined the Benedictine way of life with missionary work. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 Throughout her long and full life, Elise was active in church, always involved in missionary endeavors, serving refreshments, and providing hospitality to itinerant preachers and foreign missionaries on furlough. Sun-Sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 6/27," 27 June 2018

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

Noun

1625, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about missionary

Statistics for missionary

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for missionary

The first known use of missionary was in 1625

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for missionary

missionary

noun

English Language Learners Definition of missionary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work (such as to convince people to join a religion or to help people who are sick, poor, etc.)

missionary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of missionary (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to missionaries
: very enthusiastic and eager about doing a job or supporting a cause

missionary

noun
mis·​sion·​ary | \ ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce missionary (audio) \
plural missionaries

Kids Definition of missionary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person sent to a place to spread a religious faith

missionary

adjective

Kids Definition of missionary (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to efforts to gain new religious followers or to people sent to spread a religion a missionary society

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on missionary

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

WORD OF THE DAY

concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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