sec·​re·​tary | \ ˈse-krə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce secretary (audio) , ˈse-kə-ˌter-, in rapid speech also ˈsek-ˌter-, especially British ˈse-k(r)ə-trē \
plural secretaries

Definition of secretary

1 : one employed to handle correspondence and manage routine and detail work for a superior
2a : an officer of a business concern who may keep records of directors' and stockholders' meetings and of stock ownership and transfer and help supervise the company's legal interests
b : an officer of an organization or society responsible for its records and correspondence
3 : an officer of state who superintends a government administrative department the secretary of labor
b : a writing desk with a top section for books

Illustration of secretary

Illustration of secretary

secretary 4b

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Other Words from secretary

secretarial \ ˌse-​krə-​ˈter-​ē-​əl How to pronounce secretary (audio) \ adjective
secretaryship \ ˈse-​krə-​ˌter-​ē-​ˌship How to pronounce secretary (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for secretary


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Examples of secretary in a Sentence

You can set up an appointment with my secretary. He works as a legal secretary. He was the club's secretary. He is a junior secretary at the embassy.
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Recent Examples on the Web Ken Bennett, the former secretary of state acting as the Senate's liaison, estimated on Wednesday that between 350,000 and 400,000 ballots were counted. Andrew Oxford, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Senate signs extension on Veterans Memorial Coliseum for ballot counting through June 30," 12 May 2021 Some economists, including Lawrence Summers, a former treasury secretary, warn that major spending from the Biden administration will send the economy into overdrive, triggering dangerous levels of inflation and forcing the Fed to hike rates. Washington Post, "Consumer prices rise in April, stoking worries about an overheating economy," 12 May 2021 Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state who is serving as the Senate's liaison to the auditors, dismissed mounting criticism., "Inside Arizona’s election audit, GOP fraud fantasies live on," 10 May 2021 As of Wednesday morning, only 200,000 ballots of the 2.1 million had been counted, according to Ken Bennett, a former GOP secretary of state and the Senate's audit liaison. CBS News, "The Arizona GOP's Maricopa County audit: What to know about it," 9 May 2021 One of those people was Jeh Johnson, former Homeland Security secretary during the Obama administration. Rebecca Morin, USA Today, "Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of Biden's harshest critics on the migrant surge, is urging White House to listen to border towns," 8 May 2021 GPS China, Russia, Israel, Iran and Afghanistan: Former secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Los Angeles Times, "Guests on Sunday talk shows: Gina Raimondo on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS," 7 May 2021 Ken Bennett, the former Republican secretary of state who is acting as the liaison between the private contractor and Senate Republicans, said there's no plan to intimidate voters. Fredreka Schouten, CNN, "Republicans continue their nationwide campaign to restrict voting," 7 May 2021 Bob Babbage, a former Kentucky secretary of state and auditor, will be emcee of the political speaking, a rite of passage for statewide candidates in the Bluegrass State. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Gritty, tick confusion, barbecue’s back: News from around our 50 states," 6 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'secretary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of secretary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for secretary

Middle English secretarie, from Medieval Latin secretarius, confidential employee, secretary, from Latin secretum secret, from neuter of secretus

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Time Traveler for secretary

Time Traveler

The first known use of secretary was in the 15th century

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Statistics for secretary

Last Updated

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Secretary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for secretary



English Language Learners Definition of secretary

: a person whose job is to handle records, letters, etc., for another person in an office
: a person in a club or other organization who is in charge of keeping letters and records
US : an official who is selected by the President and is in charge of a particular department of the government


sec·​re·​tary | \ ˈse-krə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce secretary (audio) \
plural secretaries

Kids Definition of secretary

1 : a person who is employed to take care of records, letters, and routine work for another person
2 : an officer of a business corporation or society who is in charge of the letters and records and who keeps minutes of meetings
3 : a government official in charge of a department the secretary of education
4 : a writing desk with a top section for books


noun, often capitalized
plural secretaries

Legal Definition of secretary

1 : an officer of a business concern who may keep records of directors' and stockholders' meetings and of stock ownership and transfer and help supervise the company's interests
2 : a government officer who superintends an administrative department

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