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.

Example Sentences

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 After all, our job as teachers is to guide fruitful discussion, not to proselytize our preferred interpretative methodology. Nicole Stelle Garnett, National Review, 22 Oct. 2021 As a devoted disciple of Gregg Popovich’s since about, oh, five meals ago, Devonte’ Graham now is qualified to proselytize. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 11 Feb. 2023 Pesner added that the purpose of these chaplains is not to proselytize or intervene in people’s lives, but simply to be available at the polls. Dallas News, 7 Nov. 2022 What truly flourished was Catholicism, as the Franciscans spread dozens of missions across Native American territory in an effort to proselytize the indigenous people. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 4 Dec. 2020 Their role is not to proselytize nor impose their personal views on anyone. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 30 Nov. 2022 Back around 630, a wandering French missionary named Amandus arrived to proselytize the local population, building a church that later became St. Bavo’s Abbey. Mary Winston Nicklin, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2022 The Visitor Complex, of course, is not reticent in its efforts to proselytize and promote. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, 24 Aug. 2022 Community leaders and left-leaning politicians regularly show up to proselytize. Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 See More

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 1 Apr. 2023.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on proselytize

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

A Good Old-Fashioned Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?