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

The Mormon missionary and his new wife had planned to spend the summer of 2016 in Caracas while awaiting U.S. visas for Candelo and her children. Tracy Wilkinson, latimes.com, "U.S. citizen jailed for two years in Venezuela is released," 26 May 2018 But give me some good old doggy-style any day of the week; bring in the missionary with a finger vibe. Gigi Engle, Marie Claire, "7 Sex Positions Women Want to Scrub from the Face of the Earth," 27 Apr. 2017 She was born in Hawaii, then lived in Japan, where her mother (the daughter of missionaries) had grown up. Amy Spencer, Good Housekeeping, "Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" Spills Her 7 Biggest Get-Happy Lessons," 7 Dec. 2016 To some degree, the lack of charm and culture was the result of brutal interference by the military and other visiting groups, including missionaries. Lou Bustamante, San Francisco Chronicle, "The rise, fall and redemption of the mai tai," 10 May 2018 Nettie, the sister who becomes an African missionary (endearing N’Jameh Camara), reveals the vastness of the world beyond rural Georgia. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "A deeper ‘Purple’ than we’ve seen reaches Charlotte via Broadway Lights," 12 July 2018 According to the Japan American Football Association, an American missionary named Paul Rusch introduced the game to Japan in 1934. Stephen Wade, BostonGlobe.com, "Watch: This late hit on a college quarterback has all of Japan talking," 23 May 2018 According to the Japan American Football Association, an American missionary named Paul Rusch introduced the game to Japan in 1934. Stephen Wade, Fox News, "AP Explains: American football's niche following in Japan," 23 May 2018 In this desparate period, an Episcopal missionary fluent in Sioux named Aaron McGaffey Bead had come along and promised small amounts of money, in the form of 50-75 cents, for their drawings. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Newberry Library Digitizes Trove of Lakota Drawings," 4 May 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

15 Nov 2018

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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 \
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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