pros·​e·​ly·​tize | \ ˈprä-s(ə-)lə-ˌtīz How to pronounce proselytize (audio) \
proselytized; proselytizing

Definition of proselytize

intransitive verb

1 : to induce someone to convert to one's faith
2 : to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause

transitive verb

: to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause

Other Words from proselytize

proselytization \ ˌprä-​s(ə-​)lə-​tə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce proselytize (audio) , ˌprä-​sə-​ˌlī-​tə-​ \ noun
proselytizer \ ˈprä-​s(ə-​)lə-​ˌtī-​zər How to pronounce proselytize (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for proselytize


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Proselytize comes from the noun proselyte (meaning "a new convert"), which comes from the Late Latin noun proselytus. Proselytus means "stranger" or "alien resident," and comes from a similar Greek word (prosēlytos). When proselytize entered English in the 17th century, it had a distinctly religious connotation and meant simply "to recruit religious converts." This meaning is still common, but today one can also proselytize in a broader sense - recruiting converts to one's political party or pet cause, for example.

Examples of proselytize in a Sentence

They are a sport-shirted, discomforted lot, pacing, puffing feverishly on cigarettes, perspiring freely and proselytizing furiously. — Nicholas Dawidoff, Sports Illustrated, 19 Aug. 1991 His prodigious correspondence with twenty-five hundred scientists, politicians, and men of letters … proselytized for his new science of statistics. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 He uses his position to proselytize for the causes that he supports. the efforts of early missionaries to proselytize the Native Americans of Minnesota were largely unproductive
Recent Examples on the Web Community leaders and left-leaning politicians regularly show up to proselytize. Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 For a mezcal cocktail, it is beloved by pretty much everyone who tries it, and just obscure enough that its fans enthusiastically proselytize. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 16 July 2022 The event forced the president to acknowledge that the United State’s ability to proselytize about democratic values had been weakened by the Jan. 6 insurrection by a pro-Trump mob trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2022 While the film’s marketing touts its family and faith values, the movie itself doesn’t proselytize so much as pay heed to Aikens’ spiritual and familial journeys. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 14 July 2022 No matter the group’s size, members were always careful to impress upon newcomers the church’s agreement not to proselytize, Parkinson says. The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 July 2022 For some Christians, the path ahead is simple: Pray, proselytize and prepare your hearts. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 Why did Carson feel so strongly the need to proselytize the wonders of wonder? Anelise Chen, The Atlantic, 17 May 2022 Thus their only apparent interactions with non-Mormon Finns are the awkward ones of trying to proselytize to total strangers, whether on the street or going door-to-door. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 24 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proselytize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of proselytize

1679, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for proselytize

see proselyte entry 1

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Time Traveler for proselytize

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The first known use of proselytize was in 1679

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Proselytize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of proselytize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proselytize for Arabic Speakers


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