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

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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

The missionaries translated the hymns into complex Aboriginal languages such as Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Meanwhile, in ... South Korea, seniors are finding new life in daytime discos," 10 May 2018 March 17 is celebrated throughout the world as St. Patrick's Day, in honor of the missionary who helped spread Christianity through Ireland. Greg Garrison, AL.com, "Who was St. Patrick? Five quick facts about Ireland's patron saint," 17 Mar. 2018 Long story short, Father Alexandre showed up as a missionary to spread the word of Christ and convert members of the Mohawk nation—which is, obviously, representative of a very problematic part of history. Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Roger Finally Redeemed Himself on Outlander," 21 Jan. 2019 The area made international headlines last year when an American missionary trespassed onto the Andamans’ North Sentinel Island and was apparently killed by its local people who have not been otherwise exposed to the outside world. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "Why India’s Andaman Islands Could Be the New Maldives," 4 Jan. 2019 Next came the European explorers (the Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1646, the Englishman James Cook in 1769, and the Frenchman Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne in 1772), followed by missionaries, whalers, sealers, loggers, gold prospectors. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "We Should All Just Move to New Zealand," 17 Jan. 2019 The bill includes exceptions for emergency responders and people who knock on doors, such as missionaries, Girl Scouts selling cookies, meter readers, those with permission, lease holders or a customer entering a store. Eric Barker, idahostatesman, "Headed outdoors? Make sure you know about Idaho's new trespassing law," 9 July 2018 The entire region was a hodgepodge of colonial outposts, sea gypsies, Christian missionaries, tea thieves, and Chinese admirals spreading Islam. Mark Orwoll, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Way to Island Hop in Thailand," 14 June 2018 An Australian Methodist missionary named A.W.E. Silvester and two other Coastwatchers aided in their care and helped arrange for their middle-of-the-night rescue 12 days after their ship sank. Amy Beth Hanson, BostonGlobe.com, "Team backed by Microsoft co-founder locates wreck of USS Helena," 18 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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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Statistics for missionary

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for missionary

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 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

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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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