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 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 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 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.

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 4 Dec. 2022.

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!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.