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

Among those treated were American medical missionaries Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mapp Biopharmaceutical gets up to $46.5 million for new viral disease drug," 11 June 2019 American missionary John Allen Chau, 26 years old, in a photo from October 2018. Rajesh Roy, WSJ, "The Struggle to Retrieve Slain American Missionary’s Body From a Remote Island," 27 Nov. 2018 American football, which American missionaries brought to Japan in the 1930s, is barely a blip on the sports radar. Ken Belson, New York Times, "The Football Hit Felt All Over Japan," 22 May 2018 Cardboard Piano An American missionary's daughter and a local teenage girl begin a relationship in Hansol Jung's drama set during Uganda's civil war; includes strong language and gunshots; for mature audiences. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "The week ahead in L.A. theater, April 29-May 6: 'The Baby Dance: Mixed' at Rubicon Theatre and more," 29 Apr. 2018 Elsewhere in Alaska, groups of missionaries from the church can be found in Juneau, Fairbanks, Kenai and Wasilla. Jeff Parrott, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage’s ‘wedding cake church’ opens its doors after more than a decade of construction," 22 June 2019 Arbaugh worked as a missionary with a group called Walking Together for Christ Haiti and described himself on a personal blog as an evangelist and religious film producer. David Mcfadden, The Seattle Times, "Haiti missionary sentenced to 23 years for child sex abuse," 24 July 2018 Purchased from Russia in 1867, the frontier attracted a flood of gold miners and church missionaries. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network," 16 May 2019 They clearly weren’t cut off from civilization entirely, as most of them were wearing clothing given to them, probably, by missionaries or other travelers. Austin Merrill, WSJ, "The Amazon: The Heart of the World," 3 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Callie Jordan was on a missionary trip in Mexico with a team from the Suwannee Baptist Association when the tragedy occurred, the First Baptist Church of Jasper, Florida announced on Facebook Friday. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Tennessee Teen, 15, Tragically Killed in Freak Accident While on a Missionary Trip to Mexico," 2 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 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

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

12 Jul 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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