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 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 Friends were getting tired of his attempts to proselytize with YouTube videos and cryptic messages about children allegedly being trafficked in expensive cabinets. NBC News, 18 Jan. 2022 A few months ago, just a few feet away from the place where Oswald shot JFK, several dozen demonstrators began to gather to proselytize another conspiracy theory that sprang from QAnon message boards. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2021 Mayahuel swiftly became one of the best mezcal bars in the country, and Ward would do as much as anyone to proselytize for it. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 23 Dec. 2021 But the five-piece — rounded out by drummer John Merikoski, bassist John Williams and banjoist Travis Kowalsky — aren’t out to proselytize. Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 2021 Latter-day Saint missionaries proselytize in person before the pandemic. Bob Mims, The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 May 2021 The Biden-Harris administration doesn't proselytize about theories, only actions. Star Tribune, 2 May 2021 Their goal is not to proselytize; Jains don’t practice conversion. Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2021 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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Cite this Entry

“Proselytize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on proselytize

Nglish: Translation of proselytize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proselytize for Arabic Speakers


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