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 This is exactly the Pit Viper hustle, and it’s been baked into Mumford and Garcin’s process from the start, never missing an opportunity to proselytize the Party Mountain vibe. Nicole Gull McElroy, WIRED, 22 Nov. 2023 By the end, the witnesses who’ve undergone these experiences are proselytizing, with beatific smiles, for the eternal life of the soul. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 31 Oct. 2023 Chau was someone with a likely messiah complex, not some proselytizing relief worker or house-builder in a poor country. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 The Ismaili proselytizing mission didn’t stop after the 1094 schism, instead penetrating deep into the military and political structures of the community’s Sunni enemies. Nicholas Liu, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Oct. 2023 Activities that would remain protected include artistic performances and speaking, proselytizing or expressing religious, political, philosophical or ideological messages. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Oct. 2023 But Steven Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University, thinks the ruling could open the door for other demands — like the ability to proselytize, which is a core tenet of some faiths. Jennifer Miller, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2023 Theologian Russell Moore sees advantages in sending young people of proselytizing missions. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Aug. 2023 While on the show, Quigley was a dance captain and a judge, and, the lawsuit alleges, often proselytizing her Christian beliefs. Vulture, 1 Aug. 2023 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 5 Dec. 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!