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

intransitive verb

: to induce someone to convert to one's faith
: 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
ˌprä-s(ə-)lə-tə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce proselytize (audio)
proselytizer noun

Did you know?

Proselytize comes from the noun proselyte, meaning “a new convert,” which in turn ultimately comes from the Greek prosēlytos, meaning “stranger” or “newcomer.” 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 And between such events, Barco has a five-person content team that goes out and shares the good news across Hollywood, proselytizing to creatives, colorists, directors and studio execs, and winning influential converts in the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer and Joseph Kosinski. Ben Croll, Variety, 15 May 2024 The first European to record seeing Mount Mulanje, in 1859, was Scotsman David Livingstone, the proselytizing explorer and devout abolitionist. Mark Jenkins, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Apr. 2024 Democratic lawmakers filed amendments to the chaplain bill but the GOP majority rejected almost all of them, including one requiring parental consent to talk with a chaplain, one barring proselytizing and another requiring chaplains to serve students of all faiths. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2024 The program is, at times, didactic, proselytizing the best way to achieve good health, when there are, in my view, many paths that can realize the same outcome, particularly in a world full of complicated lives. Hannah Selinger, Travel + Leisure, 20 Mar. 2024 The route to forgiveness runs through belief, or proselytizing. Emma Goldberg Desiree Rios, New York Times, 21 Jan. 2024 His fans read his work repeatedly and proselytize how much his literary output is undervalued. Scott Hocker, theweek, 31 Jan. 2024 Bill Thomas, owner-operator of the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, an award-winning whiskey bar in Washington, D.C., was one of those early aficionados who have been proselytizing about high-proof spirits for 20 years. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 4 Feb. 2024 There have always been those who proselytize about the healing effects of water, but bottled water didn’t take off in America until the 1970s, when Perrier essentially created the market. Sam Stone, Bon Appétit, 20 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'proselytize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see proselyte entry 1

First Known Use

1679, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of proselytize was in 1679


Dictionary Entries Near proselytize

Cite this Entry

“Proselytize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


pros·​e·​ly·​tize ˈpräs-(ə-)lə-ˌtīz How to pronounce proselytize (audio)
proselytized; proselytizing
: to talk someone into changing religious faith
: to try to get new people to join one's cause or group

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