missionary

noun
mis·​sion·​ary | \ ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ē \
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

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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

Francis has long expressed his admiration for Japanese culture and history, and famously had hoped to become a missionary in Japan after he was ordained a priest. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "Pope says he hopes to visit Japan next year, fulfilling wish," 12 Sep. 2018 Charles Trumann Wesco, a missionary from the U.S. state of Indiana had been in the region with his wife Stephanie and eight children for nearly two weeks before Tuesday’s shooting. Edwin Kindzeka Moki, The Seattle Times, "Cameroon defense minister warns foreigners against travel," 31 Oct. 2018 In 2012, the church lowered the minimum age for missionaries from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. Brady Mccombs, Fox News, "No more snail mail: Mormons to receive mission calls online," 6 Sep. 2018 Joshua Holt, a former missionary from Utah, traveled to Venezuela to marry the woman of his dreams. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "'Mom, they're trying to kill me.' Utah man in Venezuela jail describes chaotic revolt | Miami Herald," 22 May 2018 Kenneth Bae, a missionary from Washington state who spent two years in prison, said he was kept for the most part in a foreigners-only work camp. Eric Talmadge, BostonGlobe.com, "Summit raises hope North Korea will release 3 US detainees," 13 Mar. 2018 In 2014, measles spread among unvaccinated Amish people in Ohio after a missionary brought the virus back from the Philippines. Julia Belluz, Vox, "New York’s Orthodox Jewish community is battling measles outbreaks. Vaccine deniers are to blame.," 9 Nov. 2018 Maduro also this year freed a former Utah missionary jailed for more than two years on weapons charges in a bid to improve relations with the White House. Fox News, "Venezuela's Maduro says he is 'ready' to meet Trump in surprise UN speech," 27 Sep. 2018 Alliance, which sits in wooded grounds in Kikuyu, a small town north-west of Nairobi, was founded in 1926 by missionaries to educate bright Africans and, by selecting boys from all the country’s regions and tribes, to build a country. The Economist, "Elite private schools are booming in Kenya," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Later, after the 1858 Government of India Act, whereby authority passed from the EIC to the British crown, imperialist and missionary zeal and family tradition became more common pulls. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘The British in India’ Review: Anglo-Indian Attitudes," 9 Nov. 2018 Not for the last time, the president allowed missionary fervor to supplant hardboiled diplomacy. Richard Norton Smith, WSJ, "‘The Moralist’ Review: The High and Rocky Road," 19 Apr. 2018 Many of these evangelicals take seriously the need to spread the gospel and so have funded many missionary causes around the world. Erick Erickson, Washington Post, "A word too far? Some evangelicals may have reached the breaking point with Trump.," 19 Jan. 2018 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 Its members are very much out in the world — going to school, working, trying to attract new recruits through door-to-door missionary work — but their personal lives can revolve almost entirely around the organization. David Gambacorta, Philly.com, "Suspect in Jehovah's Witness child sex abuse case arrested," 24 May 2018 More: A week ago, Kensington Church sent two of its missionary groups to Haiti. 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.

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First Known Use of missionary

Noun

1625, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

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The first known use of missionary was in 1625

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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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on missionary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with missionary

Spanish Central: Translation of missionary

Nglish: Translation of missionary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of missionary for Arabic Speakers

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